MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby litz » Mon Jan 04, 2016 3:18 pm

Also not a subway, but on the Blue Ridge Scenic, when we're "parked", and operational but the locomotive is unattended, we sit with full independent AND train brake applied + a single handbrake set.

When tied down, we apply all hand brakes (both locomotives + all cars), and do a roll test w/all brakes released before we shut everything down. Last thing we do is chock the downhill locomotive.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby MCL1981 » Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:59 am

Another good suggestion for securing railcars from getting away is to remove all ropes and bricks from the controls first....
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby MBTA3247 » Tue Mar 01, 2016 6:16 pm

"The destination of this train is [BEEP BEEP]" -announcement on an Ashmont train.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby dbperry » Tue Mar 01, 2016 8:42 pm

Having read the entire report (thanks for the link), and without detracting anything from the obvious immediate root causes of the incident, I wonder if the report and root cause analysis do not dive deep enough into the recurring failures of the signaling system. In other words:

1) How often do signal system problems occur?
2) How often are trains required to be placed into "emergency bypass?"
3) Did (does?) the need to use "emergency bypass" on a relatively frequent basis lull the operators and associated staff into regarding "emergency bypass" as a more routine part of operations, as opposed to something very extraordinary that required extra considerations?
4) What is the frequency that other agencies use "emergency bypass" or similar workarounds? [And I'll acknowledge that this question is probably beyond the scope of the MBTA report, but perhaps something for the NTSB or FTA to chew on.]

What I don't see mentioned in the report is an acknowledgement that using the "emergency bypass" as a necessary workaround for signal system problems removes an important feature of positive train control. Operating the train in "emergency bypass" - even if the motorman had been following all the rules - introduces risks and increases the chances of an incident.

One of the recommendations of the report requires supervision when placing trains into "emergency bypass," so many of my above concerns are addressed. But the underlying crumbling infrastructure seems to be one of the causal factors for this incident that does not get enough attention in the report, although it does get a brief mention:

The Signals & Communications Department has appropriated funds to extend a signal trough from North Quincy to Braintree Station. This would replace the existing, aging data cables and provide a more robust signal without reliance on Verizon services.

While the communication and signal failures did not directly affect or contribute to the near miss unattended train incident; persistent and intermittent system failures do present an undesirable condition as they introduce abnormal operating conditions which may increase operational safety risks.


Again, not a big deal since the immediate root cause is so obvious, but food for thought, IMHO.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby danib62 » Tue Mar 01, 2016 9:44 pm

They list those as contributory causes on pages 18-19.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby Head-end View » Tue Mar 01, 2016 10:12 pm

My question is: If the train operator had such a lengthy history of safety violations, why was he still employed as a train operator? Why had he not been transferred to a non-operational job, or fired before this happened?
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby danib62 » Tue Mar 01, 2016 10:43 pm

Not sure I would call his record lengthy but you can thank local 589 for that...
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby CRail » Wed Mar 02, 2016 6:41 am

Head-end View wrote:My question is: If the train operator had such a lengthy history of safety violations, why was he still employed as a train operator? Why had he not been transferred to a non-operational job, or fired before this happened?

You might be surprised at what's considered a "safety" violation. When you're closing 24 doors simultaneously on a crowded 450' platform, and someone who throws themselves into the closing door gets struck by one and claims injury, for example.

Dani, tell us what you know about the Boston Carmen's Union's record of condoning and protecting unsafe behavior. That's a very serious implication you make, and one I know you can't provide any material support for.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby Disney Guy » Wed Mar 02, 2016 11:01 am

Now you know why the PA announcements inside the trains are sometimes erratic. Stretching the microphone cord around objects as shown in the picture above puts a lot of strain on wires inside the cord which can lead to breakage.

The suggestion was made that a second person be present before the signal override is performed. Significant although not total safety can be had if this person remained in the cab and observed the track ahead all the while the train was being operated with the override.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby MCL1981 » Wed Mar 02, 2016 11:08 am

So I guess some of you guys can dispense with the elaborate conspiracy theories about a frame job now.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby leviramsey » Wed Mar 02, 2016 4:05 pm

CRail wrote:
Head-end View wrote:My question is: If the train operator had such a lengthy history of safety violations, why was he still employed as a train operator? Why had he not been transferred to a non-operational job, or fired before this happened?

You might be surprised at what's considered a "safety" violation. When you're closing 24 doors simultaneously on a crowded 450' platform, and someone who throws themselves into the closing door gets struck by one and claims injury, for example.

Dani, tell us what you know about the Boston Carmen's Union's record of condoning and protecting unsafe behavior. That's a very serious implication you make, and one I know you can't provide any material support for.


Have you read the actual report? It lists the safety violations:

* May 15, 1995 - Code 3 derailment at Cabot Yard. Failed to follow instructions and operated a train from the wrong track (track #4 instead of #3) causing train on train contact and a derailment
* August 24, 1997 - Proceeded on manual release without proper clearance or permission
* August 31, 2006 - Use of bypass through a flagging site. Violated double red and proceeded through a flagging site without proper clearance
* May 10, 2011 - Flagging site violation. Proceeded through a Level 1 flagging site at line speed, which had no clearance for workers
* April 1, 2013 - Flagging site violation. Proceeded at approximately 40 mph through a flagging site that had limited clearance

The first two are/could be minor misunderstandings (no idea what "Code 3" entails), though the media will see the word "derailment" and blare about "driver who derailed train worked for 20 more years for T!" and ignore the last three.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby BandA » Wed Mar 02, 2016 4:08 pm

So, operator violated important rules and was fired. Signal reliability was improved. Operational procedures were improved.

Was that photo snapped by a passenger prior to "T" securing the train? Because the first thing they would do would be remove the cord, then there is no physical evidence.

Didn't read all the exhibits, but to summarize the operator publicly denied wrongdoing and tried to get his job back, but apparently admitted wrongdoing to "T".

Sounds like the proper result. He didn't due it maliciously, so criminal charges would be inappropriate.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby deathtopumpkins » Wed Mar 02, 2016 6:52 pm

BandA wrote:Sounds like the proper result. He didn't due it maliciously, so criminal charges would be inappropriate.


Seriously? This guy sidestepped a safety feature with 50 passengers on board. Whether he maliciously intended the train to run away or not, what he did unacceptably put those 50 people in grave danger. This is a bit more than just an accident. I could maybe agree if he had just forgotten to properly set the brakes or something, or if the train was not in revenue service, but the fact that he tied that cord around the throttle tells me he was willfully attempting to sidestep a safety feature, and since he did that with 50 people on board, he willfully endangered them.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby MBTA3247 » Wed Mar 02, 2016 9:41 pm

BandA wrote:Was that photo snapped by a passenger prior to "T" securing the train? Because the first thing they would do would be remove the cord, then there is no physical evidence.

Per the description on one of the other photos in the report, the photos are of a recreation based on the descriptions provided by whomever secured the cab after the train was brought to a halt.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby danib62 » Wed Mar 02, 2016 10:49 pm

I'm not sure all the photos are recreations. The first photo has no note stating that it is a recreation while the rest do. There is mention of a passenger having photographed the ciniston in the report so I think that first photo was the actual controls as found.
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