December 29, 2016 Update from Keolis Commuter Services

Based upon current weather forecasts, Keolis expects the MBTA Commuter Rail system to operate on NORMAL schedules on both Thursday, December 29th and Friday, December 30th.

Actions being taken to ensure the reliability of the network and the safety of passengers during upcoming inclement weather:

  • Crews moved into position early this morning and began salting and sanding stairs, ramps and platforms. They will work overnight salting and plowing to ensure that areas are kept clear and free of snow and ice, with a special focus on stations and locations outside 495 where the highest levels of snow accumulation are expected.
  • Locomotives will be kept idling overnight Thursday to Friday based on location and temperatures. Idling will likely occur at Bradford, Lowell, Westminster and Worcester stations.
  • Transportation crews (engineers and conductors) will arrive earlier than usual to ensure trains get off to an on-time start on Friday morning.
  • Extra mechanical crews and engineering crews will be stationed at key locations to ensure rapid response should issues occur.
  • Train crews will make sure exterior doors on trains are kept closed to keep coaches warmer and to ensure doors operate properly.
  • Keolis will open the Commuter Rail Situation Room at 6 a.m. on Friday morning to monitor and manage the network.

Investments and operational changes made across the commuter rail system following the winter of 2015 by MBTA and Keolis Commuter Services:

Investments in new equipment

  • MBTA purchased 52 new pieces of modern snow removal equipment, including 10 snow fighters, six speed wings, six wheel loaders and 25 John Deere tractors
  • Locomotives outfitted with new traction motors that are better able to withstand severe winter weather conditions.

Operational investments and other changes

  • In the event of significant snowfall, trains will be kept continuously running – even when empty – to keep rails clear of snow
  • Safety inspections were conducted in advance of winter to reduce the number of locomotives taken out of service during critical winter months
  • Heaters installed on critical switches
  • Pre-treating of coach doors with de-icing solutions 12-24 hours in advance of a snow storm or heavy cold to minimize freezing

Establishment of  “storm classification” system based on severity of event

  • Weather events categorized by color-coded levels, with corresponding schedule changes publicly announced in advance

Personnel & Cross-Team Coordination

  • Development of site-specific teams and plans for each commuter rail department (mechanical, engineering, operational, customer service), working as cross-functional teams and with the MBTA to coordinate planning and rapid response
  • Addition of a commuter rail “snow manager” to coordinate winter preparations year-round
  • A dedicated “weather desk” to monitor weather and provide real-time information to teams

Customer Service & Passenger Communications

  • Customer service teams on standby and ready for deployment at major stations and other key locations
  • Centralized Passenger Information Center that uses T-alerts, Twitter, mobile app, passenger calls and news alerts to provide real-time information

Where to go for the latest information and updates on commuter rail:

  • Follow @MBTA_cr on Twitter.
  • Visit MBTA.com and subscribe to T-Alerts
  • Contact customer service at 617-222-3200
  • Download the official MBTA Commuter Rail mobile app.

NOTE TO MEDIA: B-roll of winter prep available here: https://vimeo.com/195186459

For more information, contact Justin Thompson of Keolis at 857-360-1177 or Justin.Thompson@keoliscs.com