T lifts last of universal go-slow speed restrictions

As agency repairs tracks, many smaller go-slow zones remain

THE MBTA announced Sunday night that the universal speed restriction on the Green Line has been lifted, which means the precautionary go-slow policy the transit authority put in place across the entire subway system March 9 has finally run its course.

Interim MBTA General Manager Jeff Gonneville initially ordered all subway trains to reduce their speeds to between 10 and 25 miles per hour (regular top speed is 40 miles per hour) after supporting documentation for a slew of rail repairs appeared to be missing or incomplete. By ordering trains to go slower, Gonneville was guarding against accidents.

The decision to lift the universal speed restrictions doesn’t mean trains are now free to go at top speed. The universal speed restriction has been replaced with a series of “block speed restrictions” on portions of track on each line.

“A block speed restriction is a length of track that may include multiple defects that need to be investigated or mitigated,” the T said in a press release issued at 8:36 p.m. on Sunday. “As each defect is validated and corrected as needed, the length of the block speed restriction will be reduced until the block is fully removed. System-wide speed restrictions were previously replaced with block restrictions on the Orange, Blue, Red, and Mattapan lines.”

The implementation of the block speed restrictions suggests many if not all of the track defects detected in the T’s earlier tests were never addressed.

The problem was first uncovered when a safety inspector with the Department of Public Utilities asked for backup documentation for repairs to defects on the Red Line. A check by T officials indicated there either was no documentation or imperfect documentation. Gonneville said an investigation is ongoing into how that happened.

The universal speed restrictions on the Red, Orange, and Blue Lines ended on March 10. The universal speed restrictions on the Mattapan Line ended Thursday.

Subway trains are still moving slowly, and the T is recommending that riders plan for additional travel time. The transit authority is also urging riders to use commuter rail wherever possible, and take advantage of subway-like fares. For details, go to MBTA.com.