Keolis hopes to run a normal commuter rail schedule after repairing damaged signals

BOSTON – After delays and cancelled trains in the last week, Keolis Commuter Services, the MBTA’s commuter rail provider, will resume normal weekend service on the Newburyport and Rockport lines.

The lines operated a modified schedule this week to allow work crews to repair the signal system that was damaged by the tidal surge following a snow storm earlier this month.

David Scorey, Keolis’ CEO and general manager, said crews have been working around the clock to restore normal service to the Newburyport and Rockport lines. He expressed appreciation for the patience of passengers.

“Our teams will be monitoring this system throughout the weekend and taking proactive measures to minimize the impact of the heavy rain and continued melting expected over the next 24 hours,” he said in a statement.

A tidal surge damaged the signal system on these lines in the Saugus area along the marsh. A low voltage electrical current runs through the tracks as part of the signal system, Keolis said. If the current is disrupted, which occurs when a train passes over the tracks, the signals are designed to turn red. Salt water and salt-contaminated snow and ice penetrated the track bed, causing this current to ground and turn signals red when no train is present, they added.

Since the storm, snow, ice and salt has been removed and the track bed was rinsed to restore proper operation. Keolis and MBTA teams scraped snow and ice from the half-mile stretch of track. This equipment performed multiple passes across both sets of track and was followed by a wash train that sprayed water to further rinse away the salt.

Testing of the signal system will continue throughout the weekend to ensure all the salt was removed and that the system is operating reliably, Scorey said. Commuter rail service operates on a weekday schedule Monday, January 15. Passengers traveling Monday should check, follow MBTA_CR on Twitter and sign up for T-Alerts to stay informed of service.

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