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Extreme Heat Forces Delays On Commuter Rail

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BOSTON (CBS) – The extreme heat is forcing the Commuter Rail to slow trains down on the Framingham/Worcester Line.

The six o’clock train from South Station was 11 minutes late into Westborough Tuesday night, and the next one was 18 minutes tardy.

WBZ-TV went along with Bob Johnson, the Chief Engineer at Mass Bay Commuter Rail, to check the temperature of the tracks. Heat makes steel expand, and that can be trouble for the trains.

“When the rail buckles there’s always problems, or the potential that the train can go off the tracks,” Johnson says.

The majority of the Commuter Rail tracks are safe up to 125 degrees. The question mark is the Worcester Line, which was recently purchased from CSX. With its rail durability uncertain, train speeds were cut from 60 mph to 40mph as a safety precaution.

“By running the train slower there is less stress from the trains and the locomotives on the track,” says Johnson.

The slower speed means a longer commute. The reduced speeds will likely continue between the hours of 1pm and 7pm on the Worcester Line, as long the temperature runs above 90 degrees.

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