Monday, June 23, 2008

Hot Worcester Line Tracks = Slow Commute

Yesterday's Boston Sunday Globe's "Starts and Stops" column contained a lead story about when the weather heats up, rail tracks can cause a slow down - especially on the Worcester line. Why is only the Worcester line impacted? Well, that's because CSX owns the rails that comprise the Worcester line. Sometimes the Providence line is impacted, because their tracks are owned by Amtrak. But Amtrak has higher speed limits than CSX.

No doubt, this column certainly resonated with frustrated riders of the Worcester line:

Regulars on the Framingham-Worcester commuter line have it rougher than almost anyone who depends on the rails to get to work in Massachusetts. They have suffered a history of delays and, more recently, were subject to changed schedules built around chronically slow service.

Add this to their lament: hot tracks, the scourge of summer traveling.

Earlier this month, when regional temperatures hit the 90s, Framingham-Worcester passengers were stuck with four days of speed restrictions that did not affect other commuter lines. Those slowdowns added 20 minutes to a commute to Worcester that routinely takes more than 1 1/2 hours.

Since we're now officially in summer, Worcester commuter rail riders can expect more hot track delays - especially between the hours of 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. on those super steamy days. The past two summers there have been nine days of temperatures in the 90s.

The "Starts and Start" column also had an update about the Blue Line construction.

That wasn't all the news in yesterday's Globe. There was a cornucopia of transportation related stories.

The front page ran a story about Boston-area residents who are selling their homes to move closer to their offices. Even though this is a pretty bad real estate market, some people want to cut down on their commutes. This may cause them to reduce the size of their home.

The Boston Globe Magazine published an article about some of the short-sighted transportation decisions our Commonwealth has made over the years. One was the new U-turn they added to the Pike in Boston. Another was the Greenbush commuter rail line. New big-budget transportation projects could ultimately make sense, but our state's transportation leaders need to consider if spending billions of dollars is ultimately worth it.

Along the same lines, The Boston Herald ran an article yesterday about how Massachusetts' poor roads and bridges are costing the average drive $156 in repair costs, increased fuel consumption and tire wear. Yikes~

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