Here’s what to know about next month’s Red Line partial shutdown

Local News

The MBTA announced Wednesday that the Fairmount Commuter Rail Line will be free during the closure.

The Red Line’s Ashmont Branch and Mattapan Line will close for 16 days in October. Erin Clark/The Boston Globe

The MBTA is shutting down the Red Line from JFK/UMass Station through Ashmont and Mattapan Stations from Saturday, Oct. 14, to Sunday, Oct. 29, so it can end dozens of slow zones on the line. 

During this time, shuttle buses will replace trains and make stops at every station. Additionally, the MBTA announced Wednesday that the Fairmount Commuter Rail Line will be free during the closure. 

“The upcoming work on the Ashmont Branch and Mattapan Line is critical to addressing and improving safety and reliability along this stretch of the Red Line, and the complete closure of these lines allows us to accomplish vital work in 16 days,” MBTA General Manager Phillip Eng said in a press release.

The shutdown will not impact service on the Braintree Branch or the upper section of the Red Line that leads north to Alewife Station.

Shuttle buses will run every five to six minutes during peak travel hours on weekdays, and every 10 to 15 minutes during weekends and off-peak hours on weekdays, according to the MBTA.

The transit authority recommends riders plan for increased travel time during the closure, especially during peak travel times.

For those in need of assistance, MBTA workers will be available at each stop to help riders, the MBTA said. Additionally, the shuttle buses are wheelchair accessible. 

The MBTA said it will try to minimize construction noise using noise-dampening blankets while crews are working. There will be a hotline for residents to report construction noise. 

Additionally, an MBTA spokesperson said the transit authority has worked with Boston Public Schools to ensure the shuttle buses won’t interfere with school buses. 

The MBTA recommends using its online Trip Planner to help plan your commute during the shutdown. 

The tracks between JFK/UMass and Ashmont Stations and on the Mattapan Line are some of the oldest in the transit system and need replacing, the MBTA said previously. The shutdown will allow crews to replace rail, ties, and ballast to improve reliability and reduce maintenance needs, the transit authority said.

“The MBTA is able to expedite this important work by working around the clock for 16 days with unencumbered access, which would have otherwise taken six months to complete if crews only worked during nights and weekends,” the authority wrote in an August press release.

On the Ashmont Branch alone, workers will be replacing over a mile of track and over 1,500 ties, an MBTA spokesperson said. On the Mattapan Line, over 2,000 feet of track will be replaced, and all light fixtures will be upgraded to LEDs. 

Several stations will receive significant updates, a spokesperson said. JFK/UMass, for instance, will get new flooring in its lobby, while Ashmont will have its broken windows replaced, and Savin Hill will get a temporary staircase where one has been closed. The staircase will be fully replaced next year. 

During the closure, crews will also improve station quality by replacing light bulbs, deep cleaning the stations, and doing paint touch-ups, a spokesperson said.

When the work is completed, the MBTA will lift 28 speed restrictions, which should improve travel times on the Ashmont Branch and Mattapan Line, the transit authority said previously. However, a spokesperson said Wednesday that it could take a few weeks for the tracks to settle before speed restrictions can be removed. 

On Wednesday evening, the Red Line had the highest number of speed restrictions of any MBTA subway line, and the most length of track affected by speed restrictions, according to the MBTA’s slow zone tracker. In total, the tracker said, the line had 112 restrictions across 15 miles of track, amounting to 32% of the line. 

The Ashmont Branch runs through Dorchester and serves approximately 40,000 riders daily. The Mattapan Line travels along the border of Mattapan and Milton and serves about 3,700 riders daily.