Local police chief expresses concerns for daily trains to Foxboro

Local police chief expresses concerns for daily trains to Foxboro

WALPOLE, Mass. — MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak kicked off "Rail Safety Week" to prevent rail and track tragedies. The "T" has been plagued by its own safety problems such as derailments. Repairs and upgrades are set to continue.

On Friday, transportation officials reassured riders that safety remains a top priority.

But one local police chief renewed safety concerns about the year-long pilot of weekday commuter rail service to Foxboro. Foxboro line service begins next month.

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That police chief told Boston 25 News his concern is the speed of trains that will pass through town.

On Summer Street Crossing in South Walpole, town officials say trains slowly come once a week for Patriots games. But once weekday service begins, they'll buzz by at 50 miles per hour.

Connecting Patriot Place to Boston each weekday is a major step for Foxboro.

"It's going to help the economy for sure," said Paul Morrissette of Foxboro.

Though some Walpole residents worry that more trains passing at higher speeds not far from schools will be dangerous for all involved.

"I'm really worried someone is going to have a fatal accident," said Scott Ferguson of Walpole.

Police Chief John Carmichael has been outspoken on what he considers a public safety issue.

"If at 50 MPH an hour, if it’s going to take less than a minute to come to the end of the stop, why not cut it down to 20-25 [miles per hour] thereby it’s maybe 2 minutes," he said.

The Patriots train right now travels at a top speed of 15 miles per hour.  Upon the start of the Foxboro pilot later on in October, trains will be able to travel at a speed of 60 miles an hour, though there will be a 45 miles per hour speed restriction at the grade crossing at Summer Street in Walpole.

The increase in speed will be the result of track improvements and will apply to both Commuter Rail trains and the Patriots train.

MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak at a rail safety news conference Friday morning at South Station told Boston 25 News that this is a pilot program and he's listening to feedback on it.

"And that's something we'll work with our municipal partners, we'll examine it, obviously we want to do everything to not only comply with safety standards, but make sure it meets an obvious level of safety," Poftak said. "That is something we will look into."

The pilot program starts in October.