Three public meetings have been scheduled on the North Shore during the next two weeks to explain a plan to interrupt service MBTA commuter rail service in Hamilton this summer in order to install Positive Train Control (PTC) systems and make repairs to the Beverly swing bridge.
The work is planned along the Newburyport commuter rail line, which serves Hamilton-Wenham station.
None of the public meetings will be in Hamilton and the closest meeting will be at Beverly City Hall on Tuesday, May 2. A meeting is also planned at Gloucester City Hall on April 26 and a meeting at Newburyport City Hall on May 1. All of the meetings start at 6:30 p.m.
The three public meetings will provide project details, timelines and recommended alternative transportation options.
The PTC project will mean a shutdown in service each weekend from July 8 through Sept. 30. The bridge work will mean commuter rail service will be completely shut down north of the Salem commuter rail station for 28 days, from July 17 through Aug. 13.
Hamilton Town Manager Michael Lombardo said he plans to attend the meeting and advocate for bus service from each station to Salem – at a minimum.
The PTC project is federally-mandated by the Federal Railroad Administration Rail Safety Improvement Act. PTC is designed to improve safety by preventing train-to-train collisions, over speed derailments and unexpected movement of trains through “open” switches, according to the MBTA.
Regular riders of MBTA commuter rail should take a close look at the new schedule that starts next week.
While there are no major changes to the rush hour schedule for those coming and going from Hamilton-Wenham station, most of the arrival and departures times will change by a few minutes, starting on Monday, May 23. The schedule changes “are designed to improve performance and allow for greater schedule reliability,” according to the T.
The changes were first proposed last fall but the T pulled back before putting it in place, taking further public comment. If you like the Hamilton-Wenham schedule as it is now, during peak ridership times, you will happy since no major changes are planned.
The most significant change is the addition of an evening departure from North Station to Hamilton-Wenham at 6:05 p.m. It fills in a 65 minutes window where there were no evening trips during rush hour from Boston to Hamilton-Wenham. The 4:30 p.m. train from Boston to Hamilton-Wenham has a reduced travel time, too, since there are no stops between Boston and Salem, according to the new schedule.
In the morning, the changes are far less significant, with inbound times changed by 11 minutes or less between 5:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. Two of the inbound trains do have reduced travel times to Boston – the 6:08 a.m. and 8:13 a.m. trains – because there are no stops south of Salem. Also, the inbound train that used to start in Hamilton-Wenham at 7:37 a.m. now starts in Newburyport and stops in Hamilton-Wenham at 7:48 a.m.
Also, outside of commuter rush hours, most Hamilton-Wenham stops are categorized “flag stops,” which, according to the T, means “passengers who wish to get off should notify the conductor and passengers who seek to board must be on the platform in full view of the engineer.”