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Local Senator Leads Push for Hearings on Commuter Rail Delays

Next month legislators on Beacon Hill will hold two public hearings that will examine commuter rail delays that have plagued the system all winter.

A local Senator has lead a push to hold hearings in April to examine delays that plagued the commuter rail trains during the winter.

“These ongoing delays and interruptions in service are unacceptable, and we owe it to commuters who rely on the MBTA to get to the bottom of these problems and to work to resolve them,” said Senator Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, who represents Hamilton and Wenham.

Chairmen of the Joint Committee on Transportation, state Rep. William Straus, D-Mattapoisett, and Sen. Thomas McGee, D-Lynn, recently announced a series of Transportation Oversight Hearings to be held in Boston beginning next month.

Citing a “growing frustration with the MBTA among the residents of the Commonwealth,” Tarr, the Senate Minority Leader, and other Republican senators wrote to the chairmen of the Transportation Committee on March 7 to formally request the oversight hearings.

“We want to thank the chairmen of the Transportation Committee for responding so quickly and favorably to the Caucus’ request for an oversight hearing,” Tarr said in prepared remarks. “We’re not looking to point the finger of blame at anyone; we’re simply trying to get some answers as to why these problems are occurring and how we can prevent them from being repeated in the future.”

The first oversight hearing will be held Tuesday, April 12 at 2 p.m. in Hearing Room A-2 at the State House.

A follow-up oversight hearing will be held Tuesday, May 3 at 2 p.m. in A-2.

During this past winter, there were numerous , weather-related issues and other problems that substantially impacted thousands of commuters over the last couple of months. The was on the North Shore that includes the route that passed through the .

The commuter rail system has experienced persistent delays in service this winter.  In January, 27 percent of the MBTA’s commuter rail trains were delayed and more than 100 trips were cancelled. Nearly one in four commuter rail trains were still running behind schedule in February.

In addition to the commuter rail delays, the hearings will address service lapses and delays for subway service that occurred during the winter and will also address the light fixtures in the Thomas P. “Tip’’ O’Neill Jr. Tunnel after the recent reports of one fixture falling into the northbound lanes in early February.

The chairmen of the committee said the hearing will give then an opportunity to hear from authorities at the T and the Commuter Rail about how improvements and adjustments are being made to prevent this from happening in the future, according to McGee.

Officials from Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co. - which operates the commuter rail system under a contract with the MBTA - are scheduled to testify, including State Department of Transportation Secretary Jeffrey Mullan and MBTA General Manager Richard Davey.

Public input will help determine a set of additional witnesses that will be asked to testify at the second hearing.

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