The 24-year-old Commuter Rail engine responsible for Monday night’s four-hour ride to Worcester cost the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad $500, which will be added to the thousands in fines levied against them this winter.
“Any train that is five minutes late or more, and attributable to MBCR, results in a fine,” MBCR spokesman Scott Farmelant said. “The dollar amount of the fine depends upon the performance of the particular line where the delay occurred.”
The T — which pays MBCR $230 million annually to run the Commuter Rail — issued $488,000 in fines in January alone and is currently crunching February’s fines.
“It’s a significant financial incentive,” T General Manager Rich Davey said.
Farmelant said performance should improve after the MBTA leases four commuter locomotives and buys 20 by 2013.
“People are fed up,” Brian Kane of the MBTA Advisory Board said. “Commuter Rail riders should start calling their state reps and senators instead of complaining on Twitter. We have a problem only the Legislature can solve.”
MBCR’s profit margin is unknown because they are a private company, but Kane said MBCR balked at $17 million in T fines after their first contract in 2003.
“They went back and renegotiated and said ‘If you enforce this we’ll go out of business,’” Kane said. “I believe even with the penalties they are forced to pay they are not losing money.”
Davey said the T may take over Commuter Rail service after the MBCR contract expires in 2013.
“It shouldn’t be what’s best for the T and for the contractors,” Kane said. “It has to make sense for riders.”
Engine failure delayed the 5 p.m. train to Worcester by about three hours. The same engine was delayed 90 minutes that morning.
“Old equipment is the reality and it can’t be an excuse,” said MBTA?GM Rich Davey.