Local NewsMBTA rail service out of North Station to be...

MBTA rail service out of North Station to be impacted this summer by signal upgrades

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MBTA signal system upgrades will impact service throughout the summer for riders on four commuter rail lines that operate out of North Station.

Those using the Newburyport/Rockport, Haverhill, Fitchburg and Lowell lines should expect service changes in July and August, according to the MBTA.

“The critical signal work taking place this summer at the North Station terminal areas helps the T to upgrade the kinds of behind-the-scenes signal infrastructure that riders might not see every day, but can have an enormous impact on their commutes,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak.

“When the work is finished, the new state-of-the-art signaling system at North Station will improve resiliency and reduce delays, ultimately providing a more reliable ride for our north side commuter rail riders,” he added.

Budgeted at $45.2 million, the North Station Terminal Area Signal System Improvement Project involves replacing the “obsolete signal system that controls the movement of the MBTA commuter rail and Amtrak trains in and out of North Station.” The old relay-based signal system is being replaced with a microprocessor-based system, the T said.

The MBTA said the North Station project also includes the installation of two new crossovers, “which will allow for more train routing options to improve operations through the terminal area.”

“Although the project area only spans one mile, this area includes a complex network of tracks and switches that connect the station tracks at North Station, five major commuter rail lines, and the Boston Engine Terminal, where trains are supported and maintained,” the T said.

The T said this summer’s work is the first of a three-phase signal system cut-over process, which is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2023. Future work to replace the drawbridges over the Charles River will complement the signal system upgrades; both projects will allow for the use of all 12 tracks at North Station.

The MBTA said service may also be impacted by its plans to add Automatic Train Control to the Newburyport/Rockport line, as part of Positive Train Control, a “federally-required safety control system that monitors a train’s location, direction, and speed in real time and reduces speed when needed.”

The ATC system, which has already been implemented on commuter rail lines operating out of the South Station, is programmed to alert the train engineer of potentially unsafe conditions, through the use of signal indications within the train and signal lights along the tracks. If a crew doesn’t respond, ATC automatically slows down or stops the train.

According to the T’s project website, riders on the affected lines should expect service changes from July 9-10, 16-17, 21-24, 30-31, and Aug. 4-7.

  • BOSTON MA. - JANUARY 12: MBTA commuter trains come and...

    BOSTON MA. – JANUARY 12: MBTA commuter trains come and go from North Station on January 12, 2022 in Boston, MA. (Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON, MA - July 2: Scene of Amtrack around North...

    BOSTON, MA – July 2: Scene of Amtrack around North Station on July 2, 2022 in , BOSTON, MA. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON, MA - July 2: Scene of Amtrack around North...

    BOSTON, MA – July 2: Scene of Amtrack around North Station on July 2, 2022 in , BOSTON, MA. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON, MA - July 2: Scene of Amtrack around North...

    BOSTON, MA – July 2: Scene of Amtrack around North Station on July 2, 2022 in , BOSTON, MA. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

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