Transit Projects

Worcester Commuter Rail Line

 Track Maintenance and Rehabilitation Project

The Framingham/Worcester Line is a double track, mainline railroad extending from Boston’s South Station to Worcester over a distance of approximately forty-four (44) miles. Trains normally run westerly from Boston (i.e. outbound) on the northern track, Track #1, and easterly (i.e. inbound) on the southern track, Track #2. However, trains on the Framingham/Worcester Line can operate on both tracks, in either direction, depending on how they are dispatched.

The Framingham/Worcester Line was formerly owned, operated and maintained by the CSX Corporation (CSX). In 2012, MassDOT purchased the Line from CSX transferring the operations and maintenance responsibilities to the MBTA. MBTA’s Commuter Rail Operator, Keolis Commuter Service (KCS), is currently responsible for operating and maintaining the Line for the MBTA.

The MBTA determined that rail neutral temperature records were not available upon assuming operations from CSX. In accordance with the MBTA/Keolis Continuous Welded Rail (CWR) plan, speed restrictions of 30 mph are applied for safety-related purposes when temperatures exceed 85 degrees due to the potential for heat-related rail buckling (See attached Heat Restriction FAQ’s). These heat-related speed restrictions are employed to insure passenger safety until the rail is either de-stressed or replaced.

Several track, signal and communications systems upgrades have been undertaken by MBTA since the line was purchased in 2012. The MBTA commuter rail dispatching operations were relocated from CSX in Selkirk, NY, to MBTA’s Commuter Rail Operations Control Center (CROCC) located at Cobble Hill Rd in Somerville. MBTA will continue to perform track and signal improvements aimed at the removing heat restrictions and the overall improvement of passenger service on the Framingham/Worcester Line.

Worcester CR 1 Crew w800

Rail Destressing Crew At work Fall 2014  

During the summer of 2014, the MBTA awarded the first of a series of three (3) construction contracts designed to improve existing track conditions and to eliminate heat-related speed restrictions. Upon completion of these projects, the MBTA will eliminate all heat-related speed restrictions on both outbound Track #1 and inbound Track #2 between Boston and Framingham, and also on outbound Track #1 between Boston and Worcester. The MBTA’s investment on the design and construction of these three contracts is approximately 18 million dollars.

Work performed under the first contract, Contract C72CN01, included approximately seven (7) miles of “Rail De-stressing” on the outbound Track #1 between milepost 33 in Westboro and milepost 43 in Worcester. This phase of the project was advertised during the spring of 2014 and awarded to JF White Construction Co. Work commenced in August 2014 and was completed in October 2014.

Work performed under the second contract, Contract C72CN02, included approximately seventeen (17) miles of “Rail De-stressing” on inbound Track #2 beginning at milepost 4 in Allston and continuing west to milepost 21 in Framingham. Contract C72CN02 was advertised in the fall of 2014 and awarded to JF White Construction Co. Work began in April 2015 and was substantially complete at the end of July 2015.

 Worcester CR equipment w800

Rail Heater used to de-stress rail on Worcester Line 2014  

Additionally, another seventeen (17) miles of “Rail De-stressing” on outbound Track #1 will be performed under Contract C72CN02 beginning at Yawkey Station in Boston and continuing west to milepost 21 in Framingham. This additional work is anticipated to begin in the fall and will continue through the end of 2015, “weather-permitting”. When completed, this work will allow for the removal of future heat-related speed restrictions on both Track 1 and Track 2 from Boston to Framingham.

Work to be performed under the third contract, Contract C72CN03, consists of the replacement of approximately fifteen (15) miles of existing sections of 131# (pound) rail with new 136# (pound) rail on outbound Track #1 beginning at milepost 21 in Framingham to milepost 45 in Worcester. This work also includes the de-stressing of the new rail, so that when completed there will be no associated heat-related speed restrictions. Contract C72CN03 was awarded to LM Heavy Civil Construction in July and is expected to be substantially complete by the end of 2015.

The goal of these and subsequent track improvement projects is to eliminate the requirement for heat-related speed restrictions on the Worcester/Framingham Line when temperatures exceed 85 degrees. This will effectively eliminate heat-related train delays and improve the overall infrastructure and service reliability of the Worcester/Framingham Line. MBTA is also pursuing additional means to prioritize the remaining critical areas of the Worcester/Framingham Line that may potentially require rail de-stressing or rail replacement, in order to provide more reliable commuter rail service to the traveling public.

This entire construction program will be performed while the Worcester/Framingham Line continues to operate under normal daily and weekend commuter rail service schedules. Platform boarding at various stations may be temporarily diverted to alternate tracks, with busing provided as required, during some phases of the work.

Neighbors in immediate proximity to the work will hear crews at work during daytime hours and can expect heightened activity of work on the line during through the end of 2015. We apologize for any inconveniences that this work may cause.

Customers can look forward to improved passenger service and reliability on the Framingham/Worcester Line in 2016 after these track improvement projects are completed.

Related Documents

Heat Restrictions FAQs 
WCRL Project Map Updated 8-19-15