MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

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MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby MCL1981 » Thu Dec 10, 2015 11:37 am

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/1 ... story.html

Wow.


A Red Line train left Braintree Station without an operator Thursday morning, according to state officials, who say they are investigating a report of tampering involving a safety device.

The inbound train left around 6:08 a.m., and made no stops as it traveled through Quincy Adams, Quincy Center, and Wollaston stations. MBTA workers stopped the train just past North Quincy Station by shutting down the third rail.

No passengers were hurt, but a train operator suffered minor injuries after being brushed by a train at Braintree, according to MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo. The driver is at South Shore Hospital, according to Jimmy O’Brien, the president of the Boston Carmen’s Union.

“Passenger safety is the highest priority for the MBTA and this highly troubling incident is under investigation by Transit Police detectives,” MBTA General Manager Frank DePaola said in a statement.

The FBI is also “aware of the incident,” according to spokeswoman Kristen Setera. “We have been in contact with MBTA Transit Police,” she added in a statement.
Parody Twitter account makes light of ‘ghost train’

Law enforcement is taking the issue very seriously. But others are treating the turn of events as fodder for jokes.

T officials say they are interviewing witnesses and a train operator as they look into a report that a safety device in the train’s cab may have been the subject of tampering.

In an appearance on Boston Herald Radio, Governor Charlie Baker said multiple times that the train had been tampered with but said he couldn’t go into details because the investigation was ongoing.

“This train was tampered with, and it was tampered with by someone who knows what he was doing,” Baker said.

“This was an isolated incident, a tampered train, tampered by someone, and we’ll get to the bottom of it, and I’m sure we’ll have more to say about it shortly,” the governor said. “Hopefully by the end of the day.”

T personnel got on the train after it stopped, then brought it to JFK/UMass Station, where passengers got off.

The train is out of service and currently at a Red Line maintenance facility in South Boston, according to Pesaturo.

The issue led to significant delays for much of the morning commute, especially on the Braintree branch of the Red Line. Officials announced just before 10 a.m. that regular service had resumed.

Rider Jim Crowley of Marshfield said he was on the train that left Braintree just before the incident. “Luckily I missed this close call!” he said in an e-mail.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby danib62 » Thu Dec 10, 2015 11:46 am

If I had to guess I'd say that an operator looking for a shortcut or someone with more sinister motives tampered with the dead man's device in one of the cabs. When the operator got to Braintree and closed the doors to switch ends the train took off in the opposite direction because the throttle was left engaged with the dead man disabled.

Does this theory make any sense to some of our members with better technical knowledge of how the throttle/dead man's work?
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby StefanW » Thu Dec 10, 2015 12:24 pm

I'm very surprised that one of the passengers didn't have the presence of mind to pull an emergency brake after the train bypassed the first few stations without stopping. Did they think they were on an unannounced Express trip??

Also, for me this brings up the question of whether the windows between the passenger compartment and the operator cab should be completely unobscured. I can understand how operators may not like having passengers looking over their shoulders, but if a passenger was sitting in the seat directly behind the operator's position and saw nobody there as the train blew the first stop then perhaps the train could have been stopped sooner.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby dbperry » Thu Dec 10, 2015 12:31 pm

Can anyone describe how the red line dead man switches work? Is it the same across all variants in the fleet?
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby RailBus63 » Thu Dec 10, 2015 12:33 pm

This makes no sense. Are Red Line cars set up for fully automated operation?
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby Disney Guy » Thu Dec 10, 2015 1:17 pm

I haven't seen the inside of the current Red Line car cabs but most likely the controllers of all the models of cars are the same.

If the operator lets go of the handle the handle is supposed to rise up slightly and then the deadman control engages and the brakes are applied fully. Now the operator must do a few extra maneuvers (recharge the entire braking system with air) compared with a regular station stop in order to get going again.

The operator might not have followed proper procedures before leaving the cab. Specifically he is supposed to put the controller in the "park" (off) position and take the reverser key (think: ignition key) with him which would prevent a prankster from moving the controller handle. The procedure is simpler for a station stop when getting up to open the doors but the chances of a malfunction leading to a major problem are greater if the operator was not attentive.

A passenger could have pulled an emergency stop lever, but most likely no one knew anything was wrong until the train reached the powered off section of third rail and the lights went out.

Investigation would need to include whether sabotage affected all three: (1) deadman control, (2) passenger pull to stop levers, and (3) exterior block signal trip levers.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby danib62 » Thu Dec 10, 2015 1:25 pm

I'd also guess it was a relatively empty train given that it was 6:08 am.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby sery2831 » Thu Dec 10, 2015 1:53 pm

StefanW wrote:Also, for me this brings up the question of whether the windows between the passenger compartment and the operator cab should be completely unobscured. I can understand how operators may not like having passengers looking over their shoulders, but if a passenger was sitting in the seat directly behind the operator's position and saw nobody there as the train blew the first stop then perhaps the train could have been stopped sooner.


The curtain behind the motorman is not there to obscure the view from the public. It is there to prevent the reflection of the lights inside car reflecting on the windshield. When I was little it was common to see the curtain pulled back during the daytime outside and then pulled back once inside the tunnel on the Blue Line.

And yes why did it take so long for the passengers to figure out something was wrong? I can see one station, but after that one has to suspect something isn't right!

The Red Line has two types of equipment and both deadman features are very different. The train involved today was a set of Silverbirds with the 01502 leading.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby rethcir » Thu Dec 10, 2015 1:57 pm

When you consider the alternatives, I hope it was just a lazy operator who left a brick on the pedal or something like that.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby MCL1981 » Thu Dec 10, 2015 2:03 pm

I'm guessing the tempering or bypassing of the deadman was for the purpose of being lazy as opposed to something nefarious. Kind of like how I bypass deadman on every lawnmower I've ever owned. This then allows another careless act or oversight by the operator the allow the train to drive away on it's own.

Are their block/cab signals that would force the train to stop? If so, I'm going on the assumption then that it was all greens.

I would LOVE to hear the two way radio traffic related to this incident....
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby sery2831 » Thu Dec 10, 2015 2:05 pm

There is way more than a simple manipulation to the deadman feature at play here. Unfortunately the media will get details wrong. But I can tell you there was more going on. At this point I cannot share details. Just trying to rest speculation on here. And no foul play either from an outside source. Just a series of events that lead to an incident.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby litz » Thu Dec 10, 2015 3:01 pm

That's what gets me ... the deadman's switch is only part of the equation ... obviously it either malfunctioned or was tampered with, because the train moved.

However, the fact that the train moved at all is what's pretty critical ... unless the reverser key is installed (or whatever equivalent is used for this type of equipment), the train won't go anywhere because it's impossible to select forward or reverse movement.

It's the railroad equivalent of taking the car out of "Park" and selecting a gear.

And even then, once that's done, you still you have to select a throttle position to actually move.

So there's an entire sequence of events here that had to happen for this train to take off like this.

Was this the first revenue trip of the day for this train? If not, someone could have "set up" the other cab or something ... but that's just speculation.

If it was the first revenue trip, something's seriously wrong here.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby Adams_Umass_Boston » Thu Dec 10, 2015 4:01 pm

I was amazed the train never caught up to the one in front of it and slammed into it.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby MCL1981 » Thu Dec 10, 2015 4:11 pm

This is exactly what I meant by This then allows another careless act or oversight by the operator the allow the train to drive away on it's own.

I'm betting whatever numbnuts used to intentionally defeat the deadman is responsible for accidentally advancing the throttle too. Something like putting a brick on it to hold it DOWN, but accidentally tipping forward too. If numbnuts also accidentally left the key in the forward position, bye felicia.

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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby danib62 » Thu Dec 10, 2015 4:46 pm

StefanW wrote:I'm very surprised that one of the passengers didn't have the presence of mind to pull an emergency brake after the train bypassed the first few stations without stopping. Did they think they were on an unannounced Express trip??

Also, for me this brings up the question of whether the windows between the passenger compartment and the operator cab should be completely unobscured. I can understand how operators may not like having passengers looking over their shoulders, but if a passenger was sitting in the seat directly behind the operator's position and saw nobody there as the train blew the first stop then perhaps the train could have been stopped sooner.

It's becoming increasingly clear that just one train buff aboard the lead the car would have noticed what had occurred and prevented a potential disaster by pulling the passenger's emergency brake. Until such time that we can be assured of our safety and the safety of the general public by the MBTA and Boston Carmen's Union Local 589 I suggest we organize a volunteer foamer patrol that places one experienced foamer in the lead car of every MBTA train in order to ensure the safe operation of all MBTA rail vehicles.
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