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Here’s what Charlie Baker said about when slow Orange Line trains will pick up speed

"There were six slow zones. Several of them have already been lifted."

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, along with MBTA transportation officials, observe completed track work and construction on the Orange Line at State Street Station in Boston on Aug. 28, 2022. Carlin Stiehl for The Boston Globe
On the Orange Line

Orange Line riders grumbling so-called “slow zones” are still impeding the speed of their commutes even after the 30-day shutdown likely won’t have to wait much longer for things to pick up.

Gov. Charlie Baker, speaking on GBH’s “Boston Public Radio” on Monday, said the last of the speed restrictions will probably be lifted by the end of this week, barring any changes between now and then.

“I’m pretty sure Steve Poftak, who’s the general manager of the T, said a number of times that once you put all the new track down, you have to basically run over it a few times … (so it can) settle,” Baker said. “And he said the settling process will probably take about a week.

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“There were six slow zones,” Baker continued. “Several of them have already been lifted and are not slow zones anymore. I think there are a couple more that in process.”

Since the outset of the shutdown project, the MBTA had said improvements to the transit line would allow for lifting speed restrictions put in place as infrastructure aged to make for faster travel times.

The agency had been up front the slowdowns would continue for at least a week after the work wrapped up. But that didn’t stop Orange Line riders from griping about still-slow service last week as the T branch reopened on Sept. 19.

“Can we have a time frame on when the extremely slow #orangeline ‘slow zones’ will change?” UMass Boston professor Stacy D. VanDeveer tweeted on Thursday. “I had no idea how slow the #Malden to #Northstation run could take. Should I walk?”

The T responded to VanDeveer in a response tweet: “Good Morning Stacy. The speed restrictions will be in place a few more days. Track engineers are monitoring how each area is settling, and will increase speeds when each section is ready.”

The unprecedented Orange Line shutdown has sparked speculation over the past month whether MTBA and state officials will move to make similar closures on other areas of the embattled transit system.

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Baker, on GBH, pushed back on the notion though that the Orange Line closure was a novel idea.

“We’ve been shutting down and diverting people on the Orange Line, the Blue Line, the Red Line, the Green Line, for quite a while, for six or seven years,” the governor said. “And all of a sudden, it seems to be new, and I don’t fully understand that.

“The Orange Line was obviously the biggest and the longest (shutdown), but these shutdowns that involve diversions have been going — I mean, we’ve replaced 35,000 feet of track on the Green Line and we had shut down …(branches) at various points every single summer since I’ve been governor,” he added.

“The bottom line is this is the price we pay for not doing this for years and decades. We’ve done a ton of work. I’ll be the first to admit there’s a ton more that needs to be done.”

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