Report: Brand new Green Line Extension riddled with defects

Local News

The recent discovery of track defects on the GLX has lowered speeds to 3 mph in some areas — slower than many people walk.

A rider steps onto a trolley at Union Square. Carlin Stiehl for The Boston Globe, File

Heralded as the dawn of a new era for the MBTA when it debuted just last year, the Green Line Extension is now facing a number of track defects that have slowed trains to a crawl.

The problems were uncovered earlier this month, when MBTA track inspectors found areas where the track width was “slightly out of the limits of the regular track standards,” T spokesperson Joe Pesaturo said in an email. 

The Boston Globe reported that the rails are too close together in many spots, posing a risk of derailment if the trains were to run at full speed. 

Pesaturo said the discovery came earlier this month during a regularly scheduled geometry scan of the GLX tracks, a process used to identify defects that might not be visible to the naked eye. 

Speed restrictions followed; the MBTA’s dashboard shows speeds reduced to just 3 mph on some portions of the GLX — slower than many people walk. 

The slow zones come at a time when GLX riders are already in the midst of a 25-day closure of the Union Square branch and a simultaneous Green Line service disruption between North Station and Government Center.

“With safety a top priority, the current speed restrictions … are in place until the defects are addressed during overnight periods on the Medford branch and during the ongoing closure of the Union branch,” Pesaturo said. 

Pesaturo said the speed restriction on the Union Square branch will be lifted before service resumes in a couple of weeks. He added that the MBTA is looking to identify what caused “these aberrations in the track gauge (the space between the rails).” 

Citing data from transportation advocacy group TransitMatters, the Globe report noted that despite several weekends of service disruptions for track work back in June, a round trip from Lechmere on the Medford/Tufts GLX branch now takes around 10 minutes longer than it did a month ago. 

Read The Boston Globe’s full report online.


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