By Kristina Rex

BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts’ Transportation Secretary is calling two MBTA mishaps “unacceptable,” and demanding accountability.

Stephanie Pollack said on Thursday that two incidents “will be thoroughly investigated and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation will seek accountability if necessary.” She added, “riders deserve improved reliability.”

Her strong statement comes in response to a commuter line derailment and engine fire, two events that delayed passengers for hours during the morning rush.

dandufresne Transportation Secretary Calls 2 MBTA Issues In One Week Unacceptable

Smoke pouring from a Commuter Rail train in Hanson. (Image Credit: Dan Dufresne)

On Tuesday morning, a Fitchburg line train derailed along the Waltham/Belmont line. Two days later, on Thursday morning, a Kingston line train’s engine caught fire, causing an evacuation and major delays.

“I didn’t get to work until 10:30 because I couldn’t get on the train,” said Lisa, a passenger on the smoking train who didn’t want to share her last name. “Every day it’s something.”

Peter MacDonald, a Boston dentist from Abington, told WBZ News he had to cancel multiple patients, and that he was more than two hours late to work because he had to wait for the burning engine issue to be resolved. “Most of the time, [the commuter rail is] very good,” he said. “This morning they weren’t as communicative as they should’ve been.”

photo2 Transportation Secretary Calls 2 MBTA Issues In One Week Unacceptable

Fitchburg line train 404 slipped off the tracks in Waltham Tuesday morning. (Photo credit: Tom Vachon)

In spite of the two mishaps, the company that manages the Commuter Rail says progress has been made in recent years. “There is more work to do, but service reliability is improving following investments by the Administration, the MBTA and Keolis,” said Justin Thompson, a spokesperson for Keolis, which began managing Commuter Rail operations in 2014. “The 10-year on time performance average is 87 percent, and over the past three years (2016, 2017 and year to date) on time performance has been 89 percent each year.”

Thompson also said the company does daily inspections of every train on the rail, including those that malfunctioned on Tuesday and Thursday.

Still – regular riders say improvements aren’t being made quickly enough. “It’s ‘I’m sorry for the inconvenience’ every time,” said Peter Fasoli, who rides the Commuter Rail and the Red Line every day. “’I’m sorry for the inconvenience, I’m sorry for the inconvenience, I’m sorry for the inconvenience.’ You get sick of hearing it three times a week. We got to get to work on time, too, you know?”

Kristina Rex

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