If you happened to get on the commuter rail in Worcester this morning - namely, the 6:20 am train - you might have noticed you got to Boston a lot faster than you normally do ... and with just one other stop.
Today was the first run of express service between Worcester and Boston for both the morning and afternoon commutes. It's somewhat limited at this point, but transportation officials say they're hopeful it can expand in the future to help passengers travel more quickly between the state's largest cities - which could be beneficial on many levels.
The 6:20 train that I mentioned is the only morning train, so far, that will be running express from Worcester to Boston. It's set to stop in Framingham at 7:00, Back Bay at 7:37 and South Station at 7:43 (of course, barring any delays). The train home, should you decide to wait for the express, will leave at 5:35 PM from South Station. It will stop at Back Bay at 5:41, Framingham at 6:13, and arrive in Worcester at 6:43. That cuts the normal 15 stops a train from Worcester to South Station would make down to just three.
Worcester City Manager Michael O'Brien commented in a statement that:
“...the enhanced link between the two largest cities in New England will serve as a catalyst for additional economic activity – future business and population growth and more real estate investment. This is a win for Worcester and the region.”
Currently, there are no plans to offer weekend express service, but officials did mention that there would be an "expansion of MBTA service" to Worcester's Union Station. After the acquiring of the rail tracks from the major CSX deal last fall, more trips have been progressively added on to the schedule for the Framingham/Worcester line, and more trains on the tracks - to the tune, since last October, of three more trains in each direction.
According to a statement from the T, the current administration says they're pushing to have 20 round trips per day on the Framingham/Worcester line by this October. As it is, demand is pretty hefty. The T says that if all of the commuters who instead choose to ride the T were to hop in their cars and head to Boston on the Pike, that would increase traffic by eight percent overall. That's one thing we certainly need less of at this point - and they say more and more people are ditching their cars to head to the rails. The MBTA projects that demand for commuter rail service in Central Massachusetts is expected to jump 30 percent in the next 15 years. They also mentioned that over one third of the riders who take the line each day get on the train west of Framingham.
Are you already a Worcester line commuter? Will you be taking advantage of these new express trains? Do you think that the express trains should run at a different time of day? What are your thoughts on the expansion of the Framingham/Worcester line?
If you're heading to Maine, make sure that seatbelt of yours is fastened before you cross the state line. (It should be anyway if you're travelling through Massachusetts, as it's state law here... and it's just a good idea regardless, but I digress.)
The AP reports that Maine State Police issued almost 5000 tickets and warnings to people who they caught not wearing a seatbelt - but that was just in the first three months of this year! That number's up significantly from last summer's push to accomplish the same goal, where about 2500 tickets and warnings were issued.
Officials say they're doing this because they're noticing a major trend in vehicle-related deaths - according to Colonel Robert Williams, as many as half of those who were in crashes and died from their injuries weren't wearing seatbelts.
So, the lesson here, I suppose, is buckle up - or prepare to pay up!
I guess there's different definitions of "train surfing" flying around here these days.
See, when I think of "train surfing", I think of when you're stuck standing on the T when it's really crowded, and you're squished up against about ten other people, but not within reach of any surface to hold on to ... so you have to balance yourself just-so in order to not take them all down like a bunch of bowling pins.
This guy, however, interpreted the term a bit differently. 29 year old Justin Green of Southie decided that he'd take a trip at North Quincy station on the Red Line - not unlike many who were at the station, generally for the same purpose - but it's how he did it that raised some eyebrows, according to the MBTA Transit Police blog ...
"... while outside of the train car, [Green] was attempting to hang onto the top roof rail of the train as it was pulling out of the station."
Apprently, this isn't the first time he'd decided to be a bit creative with his travel. According to someone else on the train, Green had tried to pull the same move just minutes beforehand at Wollaston Station.
Needless to say, he was discovered, the train was halted, and he was taken into custody rather quickly - it seems Green also had another warrant out for his arrest for skipping jury duty, so that probably didn't help his chances of wheedling his way out of this.
However, it's not like he didn't try anyway:
When the officer approached Green relative to his dangerous behavior Green stated he had a "God given right to do anything he wants" and the only person that would have been harmed was himself.
It's hard to find many traces left of freight rail here in the city ... friend-of-the-blog Adam over at UniversalHub has put together a great photo montage of a time not so long ago when the rails, in some areas, outnumbered the roads. Check it out.
You'll find slowdowns here...
Expressway/O'Neill Tunnel northbound
The ramp from the Leverett Connector outbound to the Tobin Bridge will close Monday through Thursday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The ramp from Exit 26 (Storrow Drive/Leverett Circle) will close Monday through Thursday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The ramp from the Sumner Tunnel to Storrow Drive will close Monday through Thursday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The tunnel from Storrow Drive eastbound to the Leverett Connector outbound will close Monday through Wednesday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The ramp from Essex Street to the O'Neill Tunnel northbound will close Wednesday and Thursday from 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The ramp from Exit 20 (Mass Pike) to the Pike eastbound will close Monday from 11:59 PM to 5:00 AM.
Expressway / O'Neill Tunnel southbound
The ramp from Rutherford Avenue to the O'Neill Tunnel southbound will shut down Monday through Thursday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The ramp from Leverett Circle to the O'Neill Tunnel southbound will close Tuesday and Wednesday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
The on-ramp from Sullivan Square to the Lower Deck will close on Tuesday and Wednesday from 11:30 PM to 5:00 AM.
The Exit 28 (Sullivan Square) off-ramp will be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday from 11:59 PM to 5:00 AM.
The ramp from Haymarket Square to the O'Neill Tunnel southbound will close on Thursday from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM.
Mass Pike westbound
The ramp from Harborside Drive to the Ted Williams Tunnel westbound will close on Wednesday from 11:30 PM to 5:00 AM.
Mass Pike eastbound
The ramp from Frontage Road northbound to the Pike eastbound will close on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 11:59 PM to 5:00 AM.
Other downtown roads
The ramp from Route 1A southbound to the Sumner Tunnel will be closed on Tuesday from 11:30 PM to 5:00 AM. The right lane will also be closed on Route 1A southbound after Neptune Road to the Airport access road in the same time frame.
The Leverett Connector tunnel westbound will close Monday through Friday from 11:30 PM to 5:00 AM.
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