Sunday, June 16, 2024

Orange line cars are manufactured for the MBTA at a CRRC plant in Springfield. (Photo: CRRC)

Cambridge and Somerville commuters on all three T lines into Boston can expect service disruptions this weekend and in February, with a state transportation official vowing fewer such surprises for riders.

Somerville commuters who use the orange line to get to and through Boston will find service suspended between North Station and Ruggles on Saturday and Sunday and again the weekends of Feb. 4-5 and Feb. 18-19. Orange line service will also be suspended between North Station and Back Bay on Feb. 11 until 8 p.m.

Green line users will also find commuting headaches between North Station and Government Center on Saturday and Sunday and the weekends of Feb. 4-5 and Feb. 18-19.

The diversions come as garage demolition work begins near Government Center; the MBTA is using that time to also replace rail fasteners between Back Bay and Ruggles stations, according to state transportation officials on Thursday.

“That is not the mode we want to be in,” interim general manager Jeffrey Gonneville told the MBTA board, adding that such short notice doesn’t suit either the T or riders “We need to progress. We need to find a way to balance the maintenance work and the maintenance needs that we have in our system.”

As the diversions continue through February, orange and green line trains will bypass Haymarket Station during the weekend of Feb. 25-26. The MBTA advises orange line riders going Haymarket Station during that weekend to exit at North Station or State, and Green Line riders to exit at North Station or Government Center.

Red line too

Red line trains between Alewife and Kendall/MIT stations will be replaced with accessible shuttles Feb. 25-26. The free weekend service diversion comes as MBTA crews work on power, lighting and track drainage in the tunnels near Alewife, according to an MBTA release Thursday. The work is intended to remove a speed restriction near Harvard station on the southbound side of the track. The slowdown had previously been on the northbound side.

Gonneville said he would like to see a 12-month maintenance calendar rather than announcing diversions just before they happen, as in this case.

“We’re going to approach things in a very programmatic way, in a way to really think through that we are getting the most efficient use of the time for these shutdowns and that we’re limiting shutdowns [and] diversions,” he said.

New T cars delayed

Meanwhile, work continues on replacing orange and red line cars with new ones made by CRRC, a Chinese company with a factory in Springfield. Gonneville told the board that “the T really needs to take a step back and take a fresh look at this contract” to get cars “as quickly as possible,” he said.

CRRC is far from meeting its contractual obligations. Not only has it been focused on only orange line cars, but it has been making far fewer pairs than it said it could. There have also been production problems along the way.

”I really do believe we are at a generational moment for the agency,” Gonneville said. “I think everyone is committed and wants to see the MBTA succeed.”