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Mass. Promises Improvements For Struggling Commuter Rail

BOSTON — After several horror stories — including a Boston-to-Worcester trip that took four hours on Monday — the Patrick administration is promising improvements to the state’s commuter rail.

Lt. Gov. Tim Murray said the state will be upgrading the commuter rail fleet over the next two to three years, but is also reexamining who will be operating those trains. The contract with the current provider, Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company, is set to expire in the next year.

“There have been preliminary inquiries from providers other than MBCR that would be perhaps interested in bidding on doing that service,” Murray said. “And the MBTA themselves has begun a process of looking at the feasibility of doing it in-house.”

Murray acknowledged that the aging fleet is to blame for many problems, but questioned MBCR’s management decisions, including the ones leading up to the four-hour trip from Boston to Worcester.

MBCR General Manager Hugh Kiley issued a statement late Tuesday afternoon saying the incident was preventable. Kiley said MBCR made a mistake when it returned to service on Monday a locomotive that had experienced a mechanical problem earlier in the day.

The same locomotive broke down in Newton Monday night after leaving South Station at 5 p.m. Passengers did not arrive in Worcester until after 9 p.m. The trip normally takes about 80 minutes.

The company was offering free rides on Tuesday to commuters who were inconvenienced.

With additional reporting from the Associated Press.

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