After a weekend plagued by delayed and canceled commuter trains due to Amtrak signal maintenance, the MBTA is moving to have fines placed on the national rail service for future delays.
Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said on Monday that the state’s Transportation Department and the MBTA will move to fine Amtrak for disruptions after an Amtrak signal near South Station led to the delay or cancellation of 40 MBTA trains on Sunday, the Boston Globe reported.
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“If they continue to act in ways that make it impossible for us to run our commuter rail system, why shouldn’t they owe us some form of penalty?” Pollack was quoted by the Globe.
Chelsea Kopta, an Amtrak spokesperson, said that the MBTA’s pursuit of fines against Amtrak was “unfortunate,” the Associated Press reported.
The two transit providers have been at odds recently in a dispute over the costs of maintaining and using Amtrak-owned signals, the Globe stated, adding that Amtrak’s updating of signal software has been blamed by the MBTA for service disruptions, including the rerouting of thousands of commuters from South Station two months ago.
“What is clear from this incident, as well the prior one, is that we need provisions in the contract that ensure the MBTA and its riders will get advance notice [about possible Amtrak disruptions],” Pollack said to the Globe. “The MBTA is working hard to improve their performance and providing reliable on-time service to riders, and we can’t have the Amtrak interfering.”
The MBTA is currently renegotiating its Amtrak agreement concerning the use of its heavily trafficked routes between Boston and Rhode Island, according to the Associated Press, which added that authorities are seeking to add language to that agreement that would open up the possibility of future Amtrak fines.