The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and its commuter rail contractor Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail (MBCR) completed the acquisition of CSX rail lines on which Worcester/Framingham passenger trains travel, opening up the line to increased service opportunities.
Dispatching is among the final elements of the agreement between CSX and the commonwealth, which took ownership of the railroad right-of-way last year.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) said, “By taking over the dispatching duties this week, the state can now give absolute priority to passenger service along the line,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard Davey.
“Controlling operations and maintenance along the line is a critically important part of our concerted effort to not only improve reliability, but also increase service between the state’s two largest cities,” said MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott.
MBCR now was has direct control of all train and maintenance activities on the 45-mile long line. Dispatchers at South Station can, and will, give priority to passenger trains over freight trains when necessary.
Also, now there is greater flexibility in managing train movements to address any operational situations, such as medical emergencies and downed trees, that may develop. In addition, operators can now dispatch extra trains or extra engines without going through a time-consuming paperwork process first.
Dispatchers can now communicate directly with train crews. Prior to this week, MBCR dispatchers would have to relay questions or directions through the CSX dispatchers in Selkirk, N.Y. This communication was not immediate and many times would delay response to unscheduled events along the line. It’s now easier to turn an express train into a local or a local train into an express train.
Sometimes there were delays due to the CSX-imposed speed restrictions on all of its railroads if temperatures exceeded 90 degrees anywhere on the East Coast; this corporate rule no longer applies.