Crews perform track work in an unidentified Orange Line tunnel during a May 28-June6, 2024 maintenance shutdown. Photo courtesy of the MBTA

After reopening the core of its Orange Line subway Friday following a nine-day closure for repairs, the MBTA says it’s made “significant progress” in eliminating delays caused by track in disrepair.

The agency has been battling scores of slow zones across its subway and light rail networks for several years caused by the poor state of repair of its tracks and other equipment, and launched a 15-month campaign last fall to try and wipe them out. When the campaign was launched, the T reported 195 slow zones on its network; as of publication time, that count had shrunk to 80 – largely on the Red Line’s Cambridge and Quincy-Braintree arms and the outer sections of the Orange Line.

In its announcement, the T said the most recent partial Orange Line shutdown eliminated 10 slow zones. Preliminary analysis by watchdog group TransitMatters shows the work appears to have shaved several minutes off the journey time between Back Bay Station in Boston and Wellington Station in Medford. However, with the T still waiting on the delivery of long-delayed replacement trains for its Red and Orange line subways, the level of service last month was around 60 percent of pre-pandemic service on the Red Line and 81 percent on the Orange Line.

The Orange Line closure ran from May 28 to June 6; the agency has at least two more shutdowns planned for different sections of the line this year. Red Line slow zones in Cambridge are slated to be addressed during short closures this month, more substantial partial closures planned in Cambridge and on the line’s Braintree Branch in July and September, respectively.

“As we restore our track infrastructure across the system, the work during this Orange Line outage demonstrates our commitment to the public to deliver more reliable service. In just 10 days, we replaced over 12,000 feet of running rail in this area,” MBTA General Manager Phil Eng said in a statement. “With each diversion, we are identifying opportunities to become more efficient, maximizing the amount of work performed through improved planning, scoping, and close coordination between our Capital and Operations teams to lead hundreds of workers in tight constrained work locations. I’m proud of our workforce and our contractors working side by side as we deliver these critical upgrades for the public and our operators. There’s more work to do on the Orange Line at the end of this month, and I thank our riders for their patience while we work to deliver them a safer, smoother, and more reliable trip.”

During each shutdown, the T has been sending workers into its stations, as well, to perform maintenance and cleaning work.

T Claims ‘Significant Progress’ on Slow Zones After Orange Line Repairs

by James Sanna time to read: 2 min