Orange Line work is 82% complete, number of cars will triple when it reopens, MBTA says

The Orange Line shutdown is set to end Monday.

New rails in between the tracks ready for use for the Orange Line. David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Repair and replacement work on the Orange Line is 82% complete as of Tuesday, MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak announced.

Overall, teams have completed around 65% of rail replacement, 90% of track replacement, 99% of special track work, and 84% of signal upgrades between the Oak Grove and Malden Center stations, the MBTA said in a news release Tuesday.

The Orange Line shutdown, which began overnight on Aug. 19, is set to end Monday, Sept. 19. So far, the MBTA has not announced any extensions to the shutdown.

The MBTA also announced that 64 new Orange Line cars will be able to run on the line when service restarts. This will more than triple the number of Orange Line cars that were in service before the shutdown.

Six slow zones are being removed

Track work currently taking place between Dana Bridge and North Station will allow for the removal of three more slow zones, bringing the total number of removed slow zones to five, the MBTA said.

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Crews have already removed slow zones at Jackson Square and between the Downtown Crossing and State Street stations, the MBTA said. By the time work on the Orange Line is finished, six slow zones will have been removed.


“Finishing this important work and removing these slow zones allows for faster, more reliable service for Orange Line riders,” the MBTA wrote.

Riders should note that when Orange Line trains begin running again, slow zones where track work was done will continue to be in place for about a week, the MBTA said.

“In the rail industry, after new track and ballast installation, and due to the amount of track area disturbed during work, it is a given that slow zones need to temporarily remain in place,” the MBTA wrote. “This is because it takes time for the new track and ballast to ‘settle’ as trains repeatedly run over these areas.”

Mayor Wu weighs in on the shutdown

During an interview on GBH’s “Greater Boston Radio” on Tuesday, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu discussed the Orange Line shutdown, saying that “just about everything possible that could be done has been done.”

Even so, she said, the reduced schedule that was in place before the shutdown will continue after the shutdown period. 

Wu also advocated for a shift in the MBTA’s hiring practices and employee treatment going forward.

“The employees and the workforce matter so much, and if there’s anything we’ve learned in the pandemic, we have to take care of people better and we have to make sure that is as central to an organization’s mission as their outputs,” she said.

What’s next for transportation improvements in Boston

Wu said the Red Line is next in line for repairs, but that she doesn’t anticipate a total shutdown because the scope of repairs it needs is smaller than that of the Orange Line.


Last week, Wu announced improvements the City is making for Boston bicyclists, as well as how the City plans to encourage more people to cycle.

Expanding on that announcement during her interview, she emphasized that everyone should be able to get where they need to go in the city on a bike.

“That is all possible. Many other countries around the world create that experience, but it’s all a design decision on how safe it is with the infrastructure,” Wu said.


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