When it gets hot, tracks get kink-y - Metro US

When it gets hot, tracks get kink-y

People piling into Commuter Rail cars from Allston to Worcester could see delays this week due to the heat.

Portions of the commuter rail will operate at half the normal speed at times because of the risk of the tracks “kinking” or bending in the 90-degree weather, according to the CSX Corporation.

CSX, the freight railroad company that manages and maintains the stretch of tracks from the Allston rail yard to Worcester’s Union Station issued a heat advisory Monday, warning of delays.

It’s CSX’s policy to limit commuter trains to 40 miles per hour, and freight trains to 30 miles per hour, anytime the temperature hits the 90 mark.

The MBTA-owned portions of commuter track, however, don’t issue advisories until the “ambient temperature” reaches 95 degrees, according Scott Farmelant, spokesman for the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail.

Farmelant said when there are serious heat waves it raises “the possibility of a catastrophic derailment,” because bending can occur.

This has never happened, said Farmelant, since the MBCR took over the MBTA’s commuter trains and track maintenance in 2003 on all commuter lines except Worcester/Framingham and Providence/Attleboro.

But at least once each summer it slows down their operations, he said.

In 2006, customers saw delays for a week during a heat wave.

“It has to be pretty intensive heat for the system to be impacted,” said Farmelant.

Purple, purple or purple?

The MBTA is asking passengers to help pick one of three designs for the new commuter locomotives it is getting.

All three designs feature the classic purple color known to commuters, but each look varies.

Customers can go to the MBTA website for the next two weeks and choose which one they like by taking a poll.

The MBTA is waiting on 20 new locomotives to arrive, a $114 million
investment that is the first of its kind in over 20 years for the
transit agency.

The new fleet of diesel-electric trains will reduce fuel costs and
emissions and improve reliability, according to a spokesperson from the

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