Friday, January 28, 2022

Franklin Line Double Track project update from MBTA, via State Representative Jeff Roy

Via State Representative Jeff Roy, sharing this response to our legislative delegation's query on the status of the Franklin Line double track. (BOLD and italics added by me for speed reading the key parts)

"Dear Honorable Members of the General Court,

Thank you for your attention regarding the Franklin Line Double Track project. We understand and recognize the importance of this initiative to you and your constituents. Please note that despite the reallocation of funding due to the pandemic, the MBTA remains steadfast in its commitment to completing this project. The Franklin Line had one of the highest ridership numbers on the Commuter Rail network prior to March 2020 and the aim of this project was to alleviate some of the capacity constraints that come with sharing the rail with freight trains. Improving service to make it more reliable is not just a stated goal of this project, but also a core focus for the MBTA throughout its network.

As a reminder, this work will create a continuous second track along nearly all of the Franklin Line—helping to keep Commuter Rail trains on schedule and supporting potential opportunities for increased service in the future. This is as much of a priority for the MBTA as it is for the delegation. However, during the onset of the pandemic difficult decisions had to be made by our team with regards to the Capital Budget. As stated to members of your team, there were several competing projects that required the same limited resources during that time namely around signal staff, materials, and necessary PTC design. The reallocation of these material resources and the funding are the primary factors for the delay in the project.

Please note that all major work on Phase 1 (Walpole to Norfolk) was completed in April 2020. The finished track serves as the foundation for phases 2 and 3 of the project. As you know in Phase 2 we’re adding 3.5 miles of track extending from Norfolk Station to near Franklin Station and then subsequently in Phase 3 we will extend the second track between Walpole and Norwood Central by 4 miles. This will connect to the existing double track that runs from Norwood Central to just south of Readville Station. Upon completion of Phase 3, the Franklin Line will have double track from slightly north of Franklin Station to the southern limits of the City of Boston.

The current cost to complete the project is approximately $23.3M which includes Keolis outlays, PTC/ATC expenses, and Amtrak dispatching expenditures. Our team will work to submit this funding for this project in the upcoming CIP process so that we can restart the necessary work to complete the work.

Thank you,

Steve Poftak 
General Manager"

Letter from delegation to MBTA

Response PDF (shared here)

On a walk in DelCarte in May 2021, popped out of the woods to view the tracks heading to Franklin Station
On a walk in DelCarte in May 2021, popped out of the woods to view the tracks heading to Franklin Station. This is the double set that doesn't go all the way into the Stations

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