Digest: MBTA to cut commuter rail service because of COVID-related worker shortage

News Wire Digest for Dec. 11: SEPTA closing 14 stations to address COVID-related financial issues; Northern Ontario transportation plan promises work to improve rail service
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Friday morning rail news:

COVID-related staff shortages prompt significant MBTA commuter rail cuts

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority commuter rail operations will be cut by more than half as of Monday, Dec. 14, because of employee shortages resulting from COVID-19 absences. The contract operator of MBTA commuter trains, Keolis Commuter Services, said in a press release that the reduced schedules, which will see weekday operations cut from 541 to 246 daily trains, will be in effect through at least Dec. 27, and affects all lines. The temporary changes use the MBTA existing Storm Schedule, designed for use in severe weather. They are available under the headings for each line on the schedule page of the MBTA website, and in stations.. There are no changes to weekend schedules.

SEPTA to temporarily close 14 stations as of Monday
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority will close 14 Regional Rail stations as of Monday because of the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency has announced. The ticket offices, waiting rooms, and restrooms at these stations will be closed through February 2021. A list of the stations involved is available here.

Northern Ontario transportation plan promises work to improve rail transportation
A draft transportation plan for Northern Ontario released by the provincial government on Thursday promises continuing work to improve rail transportation, although concrete actions are focused on $625 million in highway improvements. The draft report says the government is “actively exploring options” for passenger rail service between Toronto, North Bay, Timmons, and Cochrane, Ont., and is working with the Ontario Northland Transportation Commssion, which operates the Cochrane-Moosonee Polar Bear Express, to accelerate a track audit in the North Bay area to determine safety and infrastructure needs for future service. It also notes results of a month-long survey of those along the Toronto-North Bay-Cochrane-Timmons rail corridor will be released in Winter 2021.

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