Shuttle buses replacing Red Line service between Harvard and Alewife Stations in both directions due to disabled work equipment. Severe delays are anticipated. Please allow extra time to your commute.    more >
Alert

 

 

Shuttle buses replacing Red Line service between Harvard and Alewife Stations in both directions due to disabled work equipment. Severe delays are anticipated. Please allow extra time to your commute.    more >

 
Transit Projects

Northeast Corridor Tie Replacement Project

About The Project

During the 2011 summer, Amtrak replaced ties along the Northeast Corridor. This work was needed because railroad ties installed as part of the Northeast Corridor Improvement Project during the 1990s were determined to have a systemic failure similar to the issues seen on the MBTA’s Old Colony Lines. 

The Providence mainline between Back Bay and Forest Hills is where all the Needham, Stoughton, Providence, Franklin, and Fairmount branch lines converge to travel into and out of South Station. This is the most active section of railroad in the state. To mitigate congestion and delays on the affected lines, temporary schedules for all lines were required for the duration of the project.   

Frequently Asked Questions

Why were so many lines impacted by the project?

The Providence mainline between Back Bay and Forest Hills is where all the Needham, Stoughton, Providence, Franklin, and Fairmount branch lines converge to travel into and out of South Station. This is the most active section of railroad in the state. To mitigate congestion and delays on the affected lines, temporary schedules for all lines were required for the duration of the project. 

Where were the significant impacts on service?

Some trains were combined and others re-timed. The most obvious impact was that no inbound morning peak trains stopped at Ruggles Station for the duration of the work. The removal of this station stop was required to reduce congestion and ensure that all trains remained on time. If we were to have stopped at Ruggles, the impact of that stop would have delayed all subsequent trains. Furthermore, there was not enough flexibility in the schedule to recover the service for the evening peak, which would have made every train late throughout the day.

However, all outbound trains – including evening peak hour service – were able to stop at Ruggles Station.

Why did Amtrak do this work?

The concrete ties that were replaced by Amtrak were installed in the 1990s as part of the Northeast Corridor improvement project. Unfortunately, these ties were determined to have a systemic failure similar to what has been experienced by commuter rail on the MBTA’s Old Colony Lines as well as other rail lines in other states.

Amtrak started replacing defective ties along the Northeast Corridor south of Providence beginning in 2010. They expanded this work into Massachusetts.  

How long did the project take?

The project was scheduled to begin on June 11, 2011, and continued for just over three months, concluding in mid-September.

Tie replacement work began at Back Bay Station on the Providence mainline and extending to Forest Hills; this impacted service on the Needham, Stoughton, Providence, Franklin, and Fairmount lines.

There are normally three tracks in operation between Back Bay Station and Forest Hills. However, during this work, one track at a time was taken out of service and it was anticipated that each track would remain out of service for one month. All tie replacement was done during the overnight hours, which provided a safer environment for workers and ultimately expedited the project schedule. 

Why was work restricted to overnight hours?

Federal Railroad Administration safety rules for track workers require that there is no train travel through project areas during this type of work. Given the logistical challenges of the project, there was no way to feasibly conduct daytime work safely and still maintain a high level of service.

How many ties were replaced?

A total of 38,000 ties were replaced on three tracks over a 4.2 mile span.

With the loss of a mainline track for three months, was daily train service impacted in the event of equipment failure?

The MBTA and MBCR had extra staff and equipment on hand throughout the duration of the project to address any service interruptions that might have arisen.