BOSTON (CBS) – In the dark, on a rainy Monday night, MBTA workers looked like they were digging for fossils – and in a way, they were. The T has been shutting down service to fix aging tracks and signals.
The stretch of the Green Line in Chestnut Hill where they worked in powerful machines is a real dinosaur. The tracks are 30 years old, the signals are technologically ancient. The job is big. But there were no trains coming through on this night. The T has been shutting down the Green Line late at night and on weekends.
At midnight, service has been shut down for 2 1/2 hours. Commuters have been put on shuttle buses instead of trains. The gain is that by working overnight, the project can be done five months faster.
Workers are putting in more than six miles of cables for more reliable signals on the stretch of tracks. It should mean fewer delays.
“Our signal system is essentially 1970s technology. Think about that. Think about how many technological advances there have been since the 1970s,” said MBTA Deputy General Manager Jeff Gonneville.
They are also putting in 25,000 feet of new tracks on the Green Line. The metal rails are placed in 80 foot strips and welded together. Under intense flames, a stronger, safer stretch of tracks takes shape. It means the T can lift current speed restrictions in certain areas.
As for those passengers taking shuttles, most seemed OK with the inconvenience.
“I don’t want trains to break down in the middle, especially in the winter,” said one passenger.
When asked if they are still a fan of the T, one passenger on the shuttle bus explained, “I’m not even sure if I was ever really a fan.”
The T has also been shutting down the Orange Line on weekends. At Haymarket, railroad ties and new tracks are added. Then a machine shakes up the gravel between, making sure everything settles nice and flat.
T General Manager Steve Poftak said the billion dollar investment on the rails is huge.
“We have a lot of work going on at the T and I’m looking forward to customers being able to enjoy the results,” he said.
On a recent Monday, the MBTA couldn’t get part of the Orange Line back in service on time – and it was a mess. After seeing a scathing tweet from a longtime T rider, Poftak said he understands that people have been frustrated for a very long time.
“I understand folks are frustrated. I’m a rider myself. My family rides the T, we understand when it doesn’t work how frustrating it can be, but we are making investments to change that.”
The MBTA promises change really is coming down the tracks.