MBCR: No Apology Could Suffice

BOSTON (CBS) — The people in charge of the commuter rail say there is no apology that they could issue that would make things better for the people who were on broken down trains for five hours Monday.

Gillian Wood, the chief customer service officer for Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail, wrote a letter to the people who were on the commuter trains that left from and eventually arrived back in Worcester.

On Monday morning the P508 train from Union Station in Worcester to South Station in Boston was delayed about an hour. In the afternoon, the P523 train from South Station to Union Station broke down in Newton and instead of arriving in Worcester at 6:20 p.m. it arrived at 9:20 p.m.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Doug Cope reports.

In her letter, Wood acknowledged the same locomotive that broke down in the morning was the same one that was used in the evening commute. She said that locomotive has now been removed from service and a new locomotive will be running Tuesday evening.

Tuesday evening the MBCR released a statement saying:

“…the decision to return the locomotive to service was a mistake and that yesterday’s delay could have been prevented. MBCR staff members who made that decision did so in good faith, based upon information that was readily available, with the goal of providing uninterrupted service to all commuter rail service traveling in and out of South Station. In hindsight, a more prudent course of action was warranted because the locomotive experienced a mechanical problem earlier in the day.”

John Brady of Worcester wrote to WBZ-TV sharing his experience on both of trains that broke down Monday. He wrote that after the break down in the morning, “I thought to myself, ‘This has to be as bad as it gets.’  I was wrong.”

WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong reports.

Brady went on to say during his evening commute the train was “not even four miles from South Station” when it broke down. He said when he checked the MBTA website it indicated there was a 25 to 30 minute delay. “That would be great if it was true,” wrote Brady.

Eventually, Brady writes, another locomotive came and pulled the disabled train to Worcester, but it needed to make “double stops” at each station because the platforms aren’t long enough for double-length trains.

“Unfortunately, delays like this are becoming more and more common on the Worcester-Framingham commuter rail line.  If the executives at my professional services company ran their company like this, they would have been out of business long, long ago,” Brady wrote.

In Gillian Wood’s letter to commuters she said these break downs are “evidence that the lack of investment in the commuter rail fleet is becoming difficult to overcome with regular maintenance.”

There are two new locomotives that have been added to the fleet, and another five are headed to Boston from New York, she said.

WBZ-TV’s Kate Merrill reports from on the MBCR Tuesday evening.

The MBCR is reimbursing every passenger who was delayed Monday night, at the request of the MBTA. The company also is providing free service, at no expense to the MBTA, on Trains 523 and 527 during Tuesday evening’s commute.

Members of the MBCR management team will be on the platform in Worcester Wednesday morning from 5:30 a.m. until the departure of train P508 to Boston at 6:55 a.m. and are encouraging commuters to share their comments and concerns.

  • Cynic

    Is this any way to run a Railroad?

  • Cynic

    Has your car ever broken down?
    What could you have done to prevent it?
    Yesterday the earpiece broke on my galsses.
    What could I have done to prevent it?
    Trains Break down.
    What can anyone do to prevent it?
    It’s an imperfect world.

    • Sloppy_Joe

      The ear peice broke because you have a fat face, now that is preventable

    • Dawn A.

      I don’t keep trying to drive a 20+ year old car right into the ground. I upgrade and buy a newer car that is more reliable.Because, I need to make it into work every day. The MBCR needs newer, more reliable engines.

      They can prevent it by upgrading the trains. Instead they have no problem taking $220 a month from me and can’t hold up their end of the bargain.

  • Jeff Kingston

    No excuses, the management of the T and the MBCR is the worst in the industry, bar none! They ALL need to go, IMMEDIATELY. No excuse for gross incompetence.

  • Dawn A.

    I spend $163 a month for a pass (zone 3), plus I pay another $80 a month for parking to take the trains. I cannot tell you how many times I have been late to work this winter. Not just a few minutes…45 minutes or more. It’s so frustrating. I make sure I am at my train station on time to catch my train and more often then not, my train doesn’t come on time. The MBCR needs to start reinvesting some money into the trains. Just as we can’t count on a 20+ year old automobile to be reliable every day, they cannot expect 20+ yr old trains to be reliable.

  • Christina P ONeill

    I spent more time on the train yesterday than in the office. Yes, aging trains break down, but I fail to see the logic on the part of the MBCR team when they put a locomotive that had just suffered a major failure on the morning run, back in service during pieak evening time of the same day. Makes me think they didn’t seriously attempt to make repairs.

  • kate arment

    I was a on a train leaving North Station a while ago that had to be pushed all the way from Lynn to Newburyport. How come we didn’t get free rides or any press?

    why is North Station left out again????? we end up with cast offs from south Station


  • emom

    I see all anyone can do is complain and scream… Well sadly what would you want them to do,, if your car did break down new or used, (and new does break down),, you are then inconveinced, so what do you do.,.. no much if you cant. Like so many have the cash to repair at that point,, not everyone can do that.. preventative measures is one way to prolong or maintain.. but stuff happens…. You can only prepare for so much, you have bills to pay, things that must be bought so then what… OH and dont forget we all scream cause they SPEND SO MUCH MONEY ON NEW TRAINS oh and so many said whats wrong with the current ones, hhhmm I think we protest way to much .. and do not take into account what we all say… we can’t all have what we want..now can we… fire the big wigs and wither make the repairs or purchase new million dollar trains,, not sure that would really work.

  • dawnmarie

    it really irritates me when i see so many griping about nature..the train system arent above nature..if you cant drive in the snow what makes you think the trains can ? trains break down..just like your car..what do you expect the company to do besides apologise? they cant anticipate a issue..they deal with them as they arise same as you do in your daily life.sorry you were late for work cuz train broke down..wasnt planned to ruin your day!!!

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  • Eric S.

    I work for MBCR, and if you only knew how old the commuter rail equipment, you would see why the commuter trains are always breaking down. People need to remember, MBCR is just the operator of the commuter rail. MBTA is the owner. If there is anyone to blame, it’s MBTA. As long as it takes for us to receive new equipment, I guess people should just get used to the trains breaking down and the delays. North Side could really use some help more than South Side!

    • Jay P

      Eric S.

      I can tell you work for the MBCR. Putting the blame on someone else….

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    […] out to Union Station to hand out vouchers for free rides, answer questions and absorb anger from riders who suffered Monday when a train broke down twice, delaying them for […]

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