During the brutal, blizzard-packed winter we just endured, the commuter rail system was plagued by long delays. Today, as the temperatures rose, the company that operates the tracks along the Worcester/Framingham line thought it was going to get too hot and ordered trains to slow down.
The reason was different, but the result the same: more delays.
CSX Corp., which owns and operates more than 21,000 miles of track across the continent, imposed “heat-induced speed restrictions,” slowing commuter rail trains on that line to 40 miles per hour from 1 p.m. to about 5 p.m., said Robert Sullivan, a CSX spokesman.
The Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co., which operates commuter rail service for the MBTA, said today that trains on the Worcester/Framingham line were delayed 10 to 15 minutes because of the restrictions,
"We do apologize for any inconvenience you may experience as a result," the company said in a statement.
Spokesmen for the MBTA and MBCR declined to comment further on the restrictions, deferring all questions to CSX.
The restrictions are normally seen when temperatures top 90 degrees or when high temperatures are sustained over several days. Heat causes steel to swell, which can cause a railroad track to kink or bend, posing a derailment danger.
But temperatures only peaked in the low 80s in Worcester this afternoon, while rising to about 70 in Boston. As soon as CSX realized their forecasts were wrong and temperatures were not skyrocketing, the company lifted the heat restriction, which was originally scheduled to run until 7 p.m.
“Heat restrictions are always done out of an abundance of caution in various places across our system,” Sullivan said. “We recognized the fact that the temperatures were not going to be extreme this afternoon and lifted the restrictions.”
Sullivan said the restrictions are based on meteorological forecasts.
“We want to work with the [transit] agencies and get commuters home on time,” Sullivan said, “but we want to get them home safe, and that trumps everything.”
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