Track services

Unmanned MBTA train breaks loose and speeds backwards

Days after federal transit officials concluded their investigation into safety issues at the MBTA, new video has surfaced showing an unmanned runaway train speeding down the tracks at Braintree Station.

The video, provided by the MBTA, shows a train traveling along the tracks on the evening of May 30 and reversing onto the same track shortly afterwards.

According to the T, the incident happened when “MBTA Metro staff at Braintree station attempted to uncouple the last two cars of a Red Line train because one of the cars had an air conditioning problem. “.

That’s when it all went wrong.

“The plan was to replace the cars with another pair and then return the train to passenger service,” the T said. “They had trouble uncoupling the last two cars so they decided to re-couple them to the four other cars The last two cars were towing the other four cars into the yard when the four cars broke away from the two cars and rolled into the backyards.

The T said no one was injured in the incident, there was no derailment and nothing was damaged. The four-car train that broke away was able to stop on its own.

A Red Line supervisor remains under administrative suspension while the investigation continues.

The May 30 incident is one of five runaway train accidents — including one in December that injured three workers — that has occurred at the MBTA since January 2021, according to the Federal Transit Administration.

The FTA concluded its safety management inspection last Friday and is expected to release its final report in August. Runaway trains were one of four areas the T was ordered to deal with at short notice.

“Failure to properly secure downed trains in marshalling yards and maintenance facilities poses a significant safety risk,” the directive says, noting that such incidents can lead to collisions with other trains, injury or death.

To prevent these incidents, the T said it had trained subway staff in proper car unhitching procedures and ordered that unhitching could only take place in yards, except in emergencies, and even in this case, only by a “specific classification of employees who do it regularly.

Managers also reiterated a reminder to employees on ways to ensure a train is properly secured.

In a statement, MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said the T has nearly doubled the size of its security department in the past three years, trained thousands of employees to create a culture where security is priority and realized billions of dollars in investments in infrastructure and vehicles.