Keolis, MBTA Complete Multiple Safety and Performance Improvement Projects on Newburyport/Rockport Line

Weekday Service Resumed Today, Weekend Service Sept. 2

BOSTON – August 14, 2017 – With the Newburyport/Rockport Commuter Rail Line resuming weekday service today, Keolis Commuter Services (KCS) and the MBTA released a list of network improvement projects completed during this temporary shutdown of service between Salem and Newburyport/Rockport.

“I want to thank our passengers for their patience while our teams completed these important and much-needed long-term investments into the commuter rail network,” said David Scorey, CEO and General Manager, KCS. “To help ensure service resumes as smoothly as possible over the coming days, we will have crews in place to make minor adjustments as the bridge and other new infrastructure experience the high volume of trains and boats during peak commutes this week.”

Crews will continue to be available and on site at certain locations to make minor adjustments to the drawbridge mechanism and other recently-installed infrastructure, a common precaution for a project of this size and scope.

The weekday service suspension ends today and weekend shutdowns are on track to end on August 27, with this service resuming ahead of schedule on September 2. The weekday suspension was required because of the need to replace the Beverly drawbridge, and KCS and the MBTA were able to prioritize other projects to take advantage of the shutdown.

“The ongoing infrastructure work on the Newburyport/Rockport Line reflects the MBTA’s new approach to capital spending,” said interim MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “This fiscal year alone nearly $800 million is targeted toward projects that will improve reliability and enhance safety throughout the system.”

In addition to replacing this 132-year-old bridge, KCS, MBTA and other construction teams completed the following work during this weekday suspension:

  • Modernized track and grade crossing signals at Cabot Street in Beverly and the Ashbury Street and Bay Road intersection in Hamilton
  • Replaced approximately 12,000 railroad ties between North Beverly and Ipswich, and installed 2,800 tons of ballast
  • Upgraded sections of the Rockport layover facility
  • Performed pre-planning work for the replacement of the Gloucester drawbridge
  • Completely replaced five culverts, and performed other vegetation and drainage maintenance along the two routes

The track and grade modernizations will help to improve safety at these crossings while also reducing the likelihood for train delays due to equipment malfunctions. Railroad tie replacements are an important part of general maintenance that will now not be required again on these areas for 5 – 7 years. Upgrades performed at the Rockport layover moving forward will help to partially reduce idling, an initiative to help alleviate concerns from nearby residents.

Positive Train Control (PTC) installment and other projects will continue during the remaining weekend service suspensions. PTC technology improves safety and reduces human error by automatically controlling train speeds, including stopping it in certain situations.

During the shutdowns, the MBTA provided extensive bussing options for passengers. KCS and the MBTA deployed field teams to help these customers utilize these alternative options and navigate these new processes in as smooth a manner as possible.

Keolis Commuter Services operates and maintains the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s commuter rail system. The fifth largest commuter rail operation in North America, the system carries approximately 127,000 daily passengers throughout the greater Boston area and services 138 stations over 394 miles. KCS is a subsidiary of Keolis North America (KNA), both headquartered in Boston, and employs approximately 2,250 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 16 countries.