The number of trains arriving on time improves by 48% over seven weeks with line frequently running at 100% during morning peak periods when ridership is highest 

BOSTON, MA – December 22, 2016 – Keolis Commuter Services’ plan for improving service on MBTA Commuter Rail’s Worcester/Framingham Line is delivering strong results, as the number of trains arriving on time rose by 48%, and morning service regularly running with an on-time performance (OTP) of 100%.

Keolis, which operates the commuter rail system through a contract with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, announced recently that it had created a Worcester Line Rapid Action Group to identify and implement strategies for immediately improving service following a sudden drop in performance in September. As a result, OTP on the line has jumped from 61% in early November to 90% today (rolling 7-day averages). A train is judged to be on time if it arrives within five minutes of the published schedule. On average, 94% of Worcester Line trains now operate within 10 minutes of their scheduled arrival time.

“We are pleased that the actions taken to improve performance have yielded such strong outcomes for our passengers,” said Keolis Commuter Services General Manager David Scorey. “By focusing on and fixing root causes that can cause delays, we’ve been able to deliver a better performance on a more consistent basis, as we continue to resolve longer-term issues in order to keep OTP on the Worcester Line strong and sustainable.”

Worcester Rapid Action Group

In early November, Keolis formed a Worcester Line Rapid Action Group, a cross-functional team comprised of staff from across quality, transportation, engineering, mechanical, customer satisfaction functions. The group took a data-driven approach to analyzing issues impacting OTP on the Worcester line, implementing strategies to aggressively tackle the underlying causes for delays, identifying 28 areas of opportunity and 11 immediate action items, many of which were implemented through November.

Some of the delays were due to temporary or seasonal issues, such as slippery rail conditions caused by falling leaves, and mechanical and signaling problems, which were quickly resolved. In mid-December, Keolis wrapped up the first phase of a long-term project to replace 30,000 ties on the line, as crews were redeployed to assist with snow clearing and other winter-related work on the rails. Work to replace the remaining 15,000 ties will be carried out next Spring., helping keep the line in a state of good repair and avoid speed restrictions.

Other key actions to reduce delays included:

  • Additional Assistant Conductors on trains 504, 506 and 508 to reduce passenger loading/unloading delays and reduce dwell times. Result: Reduced delays during times of heavy ridership, with just one delay in the first week of December
  • Swapped equipment and additional turn-around time (from 9 to 34 minutes) for train 593 leaving South Station. Result: Fewer delays
  • Trains devoted to power-washing/clearing rails of slippery leaves prioritized to run at least twice a week. Result: Significant reduction in delays due to slippery rail in the last week of November
  • Amended routing of morning peak trains to minimize conflicts and speed restriction delays. Result: Morning peak train performance significantly improved, with 100% OTP for the peak period regularly being achieved.

The Group continues its work to identify and implement efforts to improve performance on the Worcester line heading into 2017.

The Framingham-Worcester Line of the MBTA Commuter Rail system runs west from Boston to Worcester through the MetroWest region, serving 17 station stops in Boston, Newton, Wellesley, Natick, Framingham, Ashland, Southborough, Westborough, Grafton and Worcester. One of the busiest lines on the network, it carries approximately 15,500 passengers each day.