Service Aggravates Passengers of MBTA Commuter Rail - NECN
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Service Aggravates Passengers of MBTA Commuter Rail

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Passengers of the MBTA Commuter Rail are annoyed after dozens of trains were canceled or delayed this week.

    (Published Friday, April 7, 2017)

    After dozens of trains were either canceled or delayed this week, passengers of the MBTA Commuter Rail are annoyed and fuming.

    "It's a little annoying because I don't have any control over it, and it does affect me and everybody that takes the MBTA," said Bradley Ginsberg, who commutes each day using the Providence line.

    Thirty-one trains were canceled in one week, with seven Thursday.

    "There's nothing I can do about it," Ginsberg said.

    Keolis Commuter Services, the private contractor that maintains the commuter rail, blames the problems on some older train engines and faulty parts inside brand new locomotives bought by the MBTA.

    "I feel like there is bits and pieces of progress but I still think that there's a lot more that needs to be done," said passenger Cathy Hobert.

    Each time train service is canceled or significantly delayed, the MBTA fines Keolis. In 2015, the company paid about $6.6 million in fines. The following year, it paid about $6.3 million in fines.

    Within the last 30 days, Keolis has had to pay about $73,000 in fines for not having enough locomotives and coaches available.

    Each month, the MBTA pays Keolis a monthly fee for maintaining the commuter rail. When the company is fined, the money is deducted from that monthly payment.

    "The MBTA pays Keolis more than $300 million every year, so it's actually 2-3 percent of their total contract," said Chris Dempsey, director of the non-profit group Transportation for Massachusetts.

    "Progress is being made," Joe Pesaturo, a spokesperson for the MBTA, said in a statement. "Today, Keolis started the morning with five more locomotives than yesterday morning. Keolis maintenance crews will be working around the clock all weekend to ensure that even more locomotives are available for service on Monday and all of next week."

    "These are problems that develop over long periods of time and they don't get fixed overnight," Dempsey said.

    Keolis says it's close to having service fully restored.

    David Scorey, CEO and General Manager, Keolis Commuter Services issued the following statement to NBC Boston:

    "We are addressing the locomotive issues that have led to the recent cancellations and appreciate the patience of commuter rail passengers as we resolve this as quickly as possible. Our mechanical team is working diligently to increase the size of the operative fleet through an accelerated maintenance program which delivers the safe, reliable and consistent service that our passengers expect and deserve.

    "During the winter, cancellation levels were low and fleet performance was generally strong. However, poor locomotive performance recently has led to a downturn in availability. This downturn is the result of older equipment failing and issues with newer locomotives, both of which have reduced the daily service capacity."

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