Boston – September 11, 2023 – The MBTA and Keolis Commuter Services (Keolis), the agency’s operating partner for Commuter Rail, today announced the new Fall/Winter schedule which will take effect on October 2. All schedules will soon be available online at mbta.com/cr. The Fall/Winter schedule will continue the “clockface” service to offer more consistent service throughout the day. Other adjustments include the extension of late-night service on weekdays and weekends, added peak service, added express service on the Fitchburg Line, construction activity mitigation, and preparation for fall/winter weather.
“We understand how the availability of mass transportation options affects how our riders choose to travel. This fall schedule balances the needs of our customers that rely on Commuter Rail for work, but also now better serves the public with additional late night trains,” said MBTA General Manager and CEO Phillip Eng. “The Commonwealth offers so many diverse places to see and experience, and taking mass transportation has now become even easier.”
“We are pleased to announce a Fall/Winter schedule that improves passenger experience across the Commuter Rail network and brings back late-night service on nearly all lines” said Abdellah Chajai, CEO and General Manager of Keolis Commuter Services. “With this new schedule, passengers who work non-traditional hours or attend evening events in Boston can access extended late-night weekday and weekend service.”
The Fall/Winter schedule will extend late-night service on weekdays and weekends on nearly all lines. On the Providence/Stoughton Line, for example, the last train will depart from South Station at 11:55PM — 55 minutes later than in the previous schedule.
As ridership continues to increase on Commuter Rail, additional peak service will be added to the Lowell, Fitchburg, Franklin, and Worcester Lines to meet increased demand and reduce wait times and crowding. In the Fall/Winter schedule, inbound Lowell Line passengers will now have a train every 35 minutes or less between 6:25AM and 8:40AM and in the evening between 3:55PM and 6:20PM there will be outbound trains every 30 to 40 minutes. Fitchburg passengers will gain an express train between South Acton and Porter Square. The Franklin and Foxboro Lines will have an entirely new schedule that offers increased Franklin service in the morning and afternoon peaks.
For passengers on the Worcester Line, the Heart-To-Hub will now make all stops between Worcester and West Natick and run express between West Natick and Boston Landing. Worcester Line passengers will also see an additional peak trip to and from Framingham, making stops at all stations between Framingham and South Station.
As previously announced by the MBTA, service changes on the Haverhill Line will be in effect between Ballardvale Station and North Station for 58 days between September 9 and November 5. These service changes will accommodate planned construction related to the ATC/PTC signal improvement project. Shuttle buses will be available for passengers between Reading and Oak Grove, where passengers can then make an Orange Line connection to North Station. Shuttle buses will also be available to passengers between Reading and Anderson/Woburn to make connections with Lowell and Haverhill line trains.
Additional schedule adjustments are required for operational changes related to weather considerations for this time of year. Each autumn, falling leaves on the tracks are crushed under train wheels leaving behind a slick film that can create slippery conditions. To ensure safety in these conditions, locomotive engineers accelerate more slowly and apply the brakes earlier. As a result, minor schedule adjustments are needed to accommodate these operational requirements. To further mitigate “slippery rail”, Keolis takes three actions. First, Commuter Rail runs two wash trains, one on the North Side, and one on the South Side. These wash trains pressure wash rails as they travel over them, removing residue from fallen leaves. Second, Commuter Rail applies gel and sand solutions to the rails for improved traction. Third, Commuter Rail keeps track of problem areas where leaves and debris build up to stay ahead of any issues. Slippery rail season can last through early December.
Passengers can stay connected with Commuter Rail by calling customer service at 617-222-3200, following @MBTA_CR on X (the site formerly known as Twitter) or by signing up for T-Alerts at www.mbta.com/alerts.
Keolis Commuter Services operates and maintains the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s commuter rail system, the sixth largest commuter rail operation in North America. KCS is a subsidiary of Keolis North America (KNA), both headquartered in Boston, and employs approximately 2,500 people throughout the region. KCS and KNA are part of Keolis Group, an innovative global leader in transit services with more than a century of passenger transportation experience and operations in 13 countries.