Winter work on the T ahead of schedule, leaders feeling confident
Governor, T officials say they're feeling good about the new third rails on the Orange and Red lines, new heaters for the commuter rail.
Feel that chill in the air? Before we know it, the snow will be here.
When it does, the MBTA will be ready. That was the message from state officials Wednesday, who were confident at a press conference Wednesday about the coming season.
“We are far better prepared for this winter than last year,” Gov. Charlie Baker said at a staging facility in Dorchester Wednesday.
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The T has been working through an $85 million package of winter resiliency fixes spurred by last year’s catastrophic mix of delays and cancelled trains amid record snowfall.
Since then, MBTA crews have completed 27,000 linear feet of third rail replacements on the Red and Orange Lines, said Frank DePaola, the MBTA’s interim general manager.
By mid-December, DePaola said 50,000 feet of new rails would be installed on all of the Orange Line, and the Red Line moving south to Quincy Center. The stretch between Quincy Center and Braintree stations was set to be upgraded in 2016, he said.
Also new this winter are plows to be fitted on the front of trains, 20 each on the Red and Orange lines, designed to push snow out of the way of tracks and trains’ motors.
The T has also running drills based on new protocols for ultra-snowy weather, DePaola said, modeled after the way the state’s Highway Division prepares for storms.
“We’re preparing for a winter just like last one and our team is being trained for that,” DePaola said.
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Remember, it isn’t all good news. A mountain work still needs to be done on the T to get it to a so-called “state of good repair.” Updating the system to good working condition could cost north of $7 billion, the MBTA’s fiscal and management control board said in its report Tuesday.