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MBTA Ready for Winter

Posted on November 18, 2019

The MBTA today announced infrastructure, vehicle, and management initiatives undertaken this year that continue the MBTA’s continually improving preparations in advance of the winter season.

In advance of this winter season, a number of actions related to infrastructure have been taken to best prepare the MBTA for extreme cold and snow/ice conditions. System-wide tree trimming took place along Commuter Rail and subway right-of-way areas with the continued real-time monitoring at critical Commuter Rail interlockings, including switch heaters, third rail heaters, and trip heaters. The Railroad Operations Emergency Operations Center will again be operational this year with the ability to address potential impacts quickly and efficiently. With specific locations noted to be prone to commercial power outages, mobile generators will continue to be pre-deployed during instances of extreme weather conditions. 

Investments in the MBTA’s fleet of snowfighting vehicles continue this year with the replacement of two snow fighters and the addition of two multi-purpose Unimog vehicles outfitted with snowfighting attachments. MPI locomotive fleets also continue to undergo field modifications to resolve moisture intrusion. 

Last winter season, a few lessons learned were noted with management areas of improvement including a focus on improving the response of Level 1 and Level 2 storm events. The MBTA’s Maintenance Control Center will have an increased role in storm management with leadership from the T’s Engineering and Maintenance Team specifically assigned to storm-related activities. Engineering and Maintenance also conducted their first ever dry run exercise in preparation for this winter season. A more robust digital reporting process has also been deployed this year with the T piloting a collaboration with the MassDOT Drone Team on post-storm flights, assessing specific MBTA facility locations for snow removal. 

Also new this year are reduced winter storm schedules for the Green Line, a new internal communication plan for operators during reduced schedules, a revised 2019/2020 Snow and Ice Plan, and a system-wise Table Top winter drill exercise planned for December 6. 

Customers continue to be encouraged to utilize for full MBTA Winter Weather Service Information. During non-storm days, features information on what customers can expect during the winter months. If severe weather is in the forecast, becomes a one-stop information page featuring an overview of the T’s service plan and anticipated impacts. The MBTA will also provide up-to-date service information on in-station digital screens in the event of a severe emergency. 

The T also encourages customers to prepare for their winter commutes by staying connected: sign up for T-Alerts, follow @MBTA and @MBTA_CR on Twitter, use the Transit app or the MBTA commuter rail app, and visit to learn about service information.

Since the winter of 2015, the MBTA has upgraded track and signal infrastructure, invested in snow-fighting equipment, and stocked up on replacement parts for vehicles, making more than $101 million in investments in winter resiliency. Last winter, 23.4 total inches of snow fell in the MBTA service area with about 43% of that total during the month of March and challenging post-storm freezing conditions during the months of January and February. Last year was the first year of global snow contracting with fourteen treatment occurrences. Snow fighting equipment was pre-deployed in key areas (Braintree, Ashmont, Forest Hills, and Mattapan) with no full system shutdowns or closures in MBTA service. 

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