Red Line won’t be at full strength until Oct.

MBTA doesn't explain why target date pushed back from Labor Day

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

MBTA OFFICIALS pushed back the target completion date for full Red Line repairs from Labor Day to sometime in October, but declined to say what prompted the change.

Some progress has been made to repair signal infrastructure damaged by a June 11 derailment, and the Red Line is now running as many rush hour trains as it normally does, albeit at slower speeds. However, MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said Monday he expects it will take about another two months to return the entire system to fully automated electronic signals.

“We are currently running a full schedule of trains during rush hour, 28 trains,” Poftak told reporters at a South Station event, according to audio provided by the MBTA. “However, because they are still manually signaled through several major portions of the route, it’s obviously slower than we’d like. We are still working really hard to get everything back. We expect everything to be back at some point in October.”

Poftak said that several “incremental repairs” between now and the fall should help reduce delays, which were initially forecast at 10 to 20 minutes in the wake of the derailment when fewer trains were running.

Signals between JFK/UMass, where the derailment occurred, and Broadway were restored recently, a project that MBTA officials said should trim five minutes off most trip times.

A T spokesman said Monday that there is no updated estimate of delays because workers first need to analyze trip time data now that a full 28-train rush hour fleet is running.

“We have a number of incremental repairs that we hope will improve trip times,” Poftak said. “Right now, we’ve got the capacity up to where it was before, but the trains just aren’t running as quickly as they can when we are automatic.”

The additional delay before full service is resumed was first reported Saturday evening by the Boston Globe, which said the T provided it with the information Friday evening.

MBTA officials still have not announced the cause of the derailment, which saw a train with 60 passengers on board damage two signal bungalows and destroy a third. Investigators ruled out foul play, operator error, and a problem with the track infrastructure, and are now examining whether the 50-year-old car or its wheel truck were responsible.

A metallurgic analysis has been underway for weeks to help determine which components broke down as a result of the derailment and which might have caused it. The derailment was the fifth this calendar year on an MBTA passenger train and the 24th since 2015.

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The ongoing delays have created significant frustrations for riders who already contend with semi-regular disruptions. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh urged the MBTA to make a roughly $9 million investment in running more frequent trains to offset disruptions, calling the system “not currently a functional service” in a letter to Poftak last month. But after meeting with the GM, it is not clear if his request will be fulfilled.

T officials rejected calls for a pause on fare hikes that took effect July 1 or some other financial relief to Red Line commuters, describing the additional $30 million from higher fares as important to the agency’s finances. The MBTA learned late last month that it stands to gain about $23 million more this fiscal year than state budgeters previously thought.