Four Straight Weeks of Replacement Shuttle Bus Service Starts for Commuter Rail on Saturday

IMG_20170714_145451A four week long complete shutdown of MBTA commuter rail service to Hamilton-Wenham station starts on Saturday, July 15.

There will be replacement shuttle bus service for every day that the train isn’t running and the T has set up temporary shuttle bus stops along Route 1A (Bay Road) near the intersection of Railroad Avenue.

During weekdays, train service north of Salem station will be halted until Aug. 13 for work on the Beverly drawbridge across the Danvers River.

The weekday shuttle bus service will be free. A zone 3 monthly pass will be accepted at all stations north of Salem for the months of July and August. The shuttle buses will be ADA accessible with Wi-Fi service and restrooms. Bicycles, including folding bikes, will be prohibited on all shuttle buses.

Parking will be free at Hamilton-Wenham station during the weekday shutdown. Commuter rail riders are encouraged to not drive to Salem station and park because parking there is very constrained. Parking regulations will be strictly enforced in downtown Salem and neighborhood areas to the station, according to the T.

The weekday shutdown for commuter rail service north of Salem is scheduled to run from Monday, July 17 through Sunday, Aug. 13.

Separate from the drawbridge work that will shut down train service north of Salem, weekend replacement shuttle bus service will last into September for the entire length of the Newburyport train line. The weekend shut down is for a safety improvement project.

The closure will allow the MBTA to install a federally mandated Positive Train Control (PTC) system along the tracks. PTC will improve safety by reducing train collisions and derailments.

A shuttle bus will stop at Hamilton-Wenham station on weekends until Sunday, Sept. 30. Just as is the case during the weekday shutdown, the weekend replacement shuttle bus service is ADA accessible with Wi-Fi service and restrooms.

The special weekend fare for the shuttle bus service is $10 roundtrip to North Station in Boston. Zone 3 or higher monthly passes will also be accepted and parking will be free at Hamilton-Wenham station during the weekend shutdown.

Detailed shuttle bus times and schedules are available on the MBTA website.

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Public Meetings Will Outline Plan for Commuter Rail Shutdown This Summer

mbta commuter railThree 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.

MBTA Schedule Changes at Hamilton-Wenham Station Start Monday

Hamilton_Wenham_platformRegular 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.”