Commuter rail officials today apologized and admitted they had made a mistake after trains traveling Monday on the Boston-Worcester line experienced major delays. They also said they would reimburse people for their cost of travel and provide free rides on two trains this evening.
"MBCR continues to reach out to customers who were delayed yesterday with a sincere apology for the significant interruption they experienced," said Hugh Kiley Jr., general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad, which runs the commuter rail service for the T.
Train 523 left South Station at 5 p.m. Monday and was supposed to arrive at Worcester at 6:20 p.m. Due to an engine failure, it arrived at 9:04 p.m., said Scott Farmelant, an MBCR spokesman.
The engine from a later train was hooked to 523, causing delays for riders on the later train also.
Kiley said in a statement that rides would be free tonight on both trains.
The engine failed because its crankcase broke. Built in 1987 and rebuilt in 2001, the same engine had also caused delays earlier in the day on a Boston-Worcester run when its governor broke. But that problem was fixed by the time of the ill-fated afternoon run. The engine is now in the shop again, Farmelant said.
Farmelant said this morning that the problems "reflect the age of the commuter rail locomotive fleet" and were "extremely frustrating for everybody involved with MBTA passenger rail service."
"Both the T and MBCR recognize the need for renewed investment in equipment and are actively pursuing opportunities to lease additional locomotives," Farmelant said in a statement.
But this afternoon, Kiley said that after an examination of "protocols and procedures," the MBCR had realized that the decision to return the locomotive to service "was a mistake and that yesterday's delay could have been prevented."
"In hindsight, a more prudent course of action was warranted because the locomotive experienced a mechanical problem earlier in the day. While the final outcome was clearly not intended, the locomotive should not have been returned to service. For this, MBCR apologizes," the statement said.
Keith Nelson of Framingham said his wife was on the 5 p.m. train and he was on the later train that came to the disabled train's rescue. "The inconveniences the MBTA and MBCR have thrust upon its ridership this winter have been the worst I have seen in 15-plus years of commuting from Framingham to Boston," he wrote to boston.com.
"I'm sorry, the 'we apologize for the inconvenience' announcements and emails just don't mean anything anymore," said Nelson, who was one of a number of riders who spoke out in response to a query on boston.com.
"I understand the aging trains, weather problems and erroneous alerts, but when will these
issues be fixed?" wrote Sandra Cabral of Bolton, who was on the later train.
Did you have an unpleasant commute on Monday on the Boston-Worcester line? We'd like to hear your story. Write reporter Eric Moskowitz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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