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Runaway Boston train was tampered with, governor says

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posted on Dec, 10 2015 @ 12:47 PM
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BOSTON -- A six-car train with passengers on board that left a suburban Boston transit station without a driver Thursday and went through four stations without stopping was tampered with, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said.

...

MBTA operations eventually disabled the train and brought it to a stop by cutting off power to the electrified third rail, officials said. An initial investigation indicated that a safety device within the train's cab may have been tampered with.

"This train was tampered with, and it was tampered with by somebody who knew what they were doing," Baker said during an interview on Boston Herald Radio.

Baker called it an "isolated" incident and said MBTA passengers should not be concerned.


Source

I'm wondering if there are any local ATS members who might have a bit more insight into this event.

"Isolated incidents" are not always so isolated.

A little more detail at the Boston Herald:


“They're currently interviewing several people, including the gentleman who was the operator,” Baker said, adding that nobody was hurt despite there being passengers on the train. “This train was tampered with and it was tampered with by somebody who knew what they were doing.”

Baker called it an “isolated” incident, though he agreed with a comment that the situation felt like it's “out of a movie.”

“We'll get to the bottom of it,” Baker said. “People are all over this one.”

Baker, speaking early this afternoon at a separate event in Plymouth, reiterated that the “main control that drives the train” had been “manipulated.” He said within minutes of the train leaving Braintree Station, power was cut to the third rail, but the train coasted through several station because it already had momentum before stopping near the North Quincy station.

“It's pretty clear it was set in forward motion, which is why it moved in the first place,” Baker told reporters, adding that the operator stepped off the train to check a problem with the signal.

“He got out to check the signal, and then it went forward,” Baker said. “I think the big issue on this is whether this was a negligence issue or something else.”

Baker added that the FBI is not directly involved “at this point” in the investigation, which is being handled by the MBTA, MassDOT and the state's public safety office. The Federal Transit Administration also is investigation the incident, according to a Baker aide.
emphasis mine

Authorities: Someone may have tampered with runaway train

So, there are some possible indications that this might not be so "isolated." Will want to keep an eye on how this develops.

What says ATS?




posted on Dec, 10 2015 @ 12:50 PM
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While I am somewhat familiar with the T from my travels to Boston I would be surprised if it does not have the automatic braking system that the New York City subways have where if the train goes through a red light block it trips the braking system and shuts down the consist.



posted on Dec, 10 2015 @ 12:55 PM
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a reply to: AugustusMasonicus

I just found this in the Boston Globe:


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 after shutting down the third rail.

...

Baker said officials were able to shut off power to the train within a “few minutes” of its taking off unmanned. However, it continued to coast for several stations using the momentum it had built up.


Red Line train travels multiple stops without operator

They turned off power to the third rail and it glided the rest of the way. I wonder how fast it got going before they were able to shut it down.

 


And what would have happened had it taken longer for officials to jump in to action.

And could this have been a diversion for other actions?

edit on 10-12-2015 by jadedANDcynical because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 10 2015 @ 01:54 PM
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I just heard about this from this thread. I take the red line but I get on much further down the line and not usually that early. That must have been really scary for everyone involved. I've never heard of anything like that happening before... as bad as the T is, nothing like that. I didn't have to go to work today so I was never on the T at all today.



posted on Dec, 10 2015 @ 03:13 PM
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a reply to: jadedANDcynical

Ok, so the train has been carefully gone over, and they have found that some component of the control mechanism was tampered with.

But have they checked to see whether the signalling problem that drew the driver out of the cab was genuine? Seems like a tidy way to make a man leave his post, prevent him from doing his job, inciting him to investigate the issue...

Just a thought.



posted on Dec, 10 2015 @ 03:15 PM
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a reply to: jadedANDcynical

I always wonder when anything explodes or derails



posted on Dec, 10 2015 @ 03:26 PM
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a reply to: TrueBrit

From what I'm seeing in the comments to the various postings of this story, there should have been a dead-man switch which would have prevented the train from operating without a driver on board, is this the mechanism which was tampered with?

Anyone familiar enough with the area to know where this might have ended up had it not been stopped?



posted on Dec, 10 2015 @ 03:34 PM
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a reply to: jadedANDcynical

Seems a likely bet that the dead mans switch was bypassed, and then someone simply put the train in motion in the normal way. There would be no need to tamper with the accelerator itself, except to activate it. One assumes there was limited time to perform the alteration, and one would ordinarily want to minimise the amount of time and effort required to achieve the aim of moving the thing with no driver, assuming that was all that was intended.

I still want to know if they have examined the signal controller. If that too was tampered with, it would indicate a certain level of cunning and gamesmanship.



posted on Dec, 10 2015 @ 04:06 PM
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a reply to: TrueBrit

The bit I keep coming back to is this:


“They're currently interviewing several people, including the gentleman who was the operator,” Baker said, adding that nobody was hurt despite there being passengers on the train. “This train was tampered with and it was tampered with by somebody who knew what they were doing.”
emphasis mine

Boston Herald

Is this the type of job where one regularly "brings a friend to work?"

Some reports now are suggesting that this is merely human error.



posted on Dec, 10 2015 @ 04:11 PM
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a reply to: jadedANDcynical

The overall image of the event seems confused. Either the thing was tampered with, or it was not. If it was not, then the thing should not have been able to move at all, unless the driver was at the controls.

Further to your post above, I do not see where a reference to a friend of the driver being around was made, would you care to illuminate the subject a little?



posted on Dec, 10 2015 @ 04:16 PM
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It is a fairly involved process to get a subway moving, they just do not 'take off' by themselves. Also, when they do, in the rare instance, end up operator-less there should be a lever which deploys trackside and trips the emergency brakes on the cars. That is what I find odd, that this did not occur and they needed to cut the power instead.

You never hear of runaways on the New York City system since once they go through a red light the emergencies kick and stop the train mechanically.



posted on Dec, 10 2015 @ 04:18 PM
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a reply to: TrueBrit

There were several references to "someone seen next to the train operator" in the various versions of the story when it first broke. The original source I used has this update:


Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack said Thursday that before the train left the Braintree station, the operator got off the train to execute a procedure that allows it to travel if there is a signal problem. Operator error is the current focus of the investigation.

Pollack said the extent to which the operator is responsible and how to characterize it will be determined by the investigation. Pollack said an investigation is under way to determine if the driver failed to properly secured brakes before exiting the train.


Furthermore:


Kristen Setera, a spokeswoman for the Boston office of the FBI, said in an email that the agency was aware of the incident and was in contact with transit police, but provided no other information.

NTSB has not made a decision yet if they will participate in the investigation.

FBI not involved investigation

Pesaturo said an initial examination showed no problems with the "functionality" of the train's equipment.


I'm guessing from the lack of FBI involvement, it may have been nothing more than human error, but there are a number of unanswered questions left floating.



posted on Dec, 10 2015 @ 04:24 PM
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a reply to: jadedANDcynical

Hmmm.

Something Augustus Masonicus was saying made me think. There was a segment of the news article which referred to a sound like a gunshot, that some witnesses on the train thought they heard. Perhaps the safety lever he describes, or something like it, tried to engage and suffered a structural failure? A piece of something important being broken off by the passage of a moving train might sound like a gunshot, if it happened fast enough?



posted on Dec, 10 2015 @ 06:03 PM
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a reply to: TrueBrit

It's actually fairly routine for the driver to do this.



posted on Dec, 10 2015 @ 06:06 PM
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a reply to: AugustusMasonicus

There is actually passenger access to an emergency brake, I wonder why no one pulled it. Unless, it was pulled and failed.



posted on Dec, 10 2015 @ 06:08 PM
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a reply to: Kali74

Hmmm. Well, fair enough.

Perhaps no one did anything, or perhaps whoever tampered with the controls was an opportunist? Either way, strange thing to have happen.



posted on Dec, 10 2015 @ 09:03 PM
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originally posted by: Kali74
a reply to: AugustusMasonicus

There is actually passenger access to an emergency brake, I wonder why no one pulled it. Unless, it was pulled and failed.


Yes, there is a lever behind plexiglass at each end of the car that can enable a passenger to cause the master brake to engage and also shut down the electricity to the train. I am also surprised that someone did not pull it as it passed through several stations without stopping. Clearly, the people in the front car would see that there was no operator. Wierd.

Also, the dead-man's switch had to be jammed down some how. These are proven not to be without trouble though.. there was a Green Line incident/accident in 2008 where the operator was incapacitated, but the switch stayed engaged.



I live in Braintree , where the train left from. After North Quincy, the next stop is JFK/Umass and after that it is on to the underground tunnels with all of the stops in Boston , all the way through to Cambridge.



posted on Dec, 10 2015 @ 09:24 PM
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a reply to: charlyv

Ya I'm on the orange line then switch to red at downtown x. I can totally see people not realizing there was no driver and thinking they won the T lottery and got an express train.

I know it's not funny but it's funny.

6am maybe no one was on the 1st car.
edit on 12/10/2015 by Kali74 because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 10 2015 @ 09:33 PM
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originally posted by: Kali74
a reply to: charlyv

Ya I'm on the orange line then switch to red at downtown x. I can totally see people not realizing there was no driver and thinking they won the T lottery and got an express train.

I know it's not funny but it's funny.

6am maybe no one was on the 1st car.


Good Point, most people do not like the first car, and since it started at Braintree, most likely empty.



posted on Dec, 10 2015 @ 10:07 PM
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IT gets worse.
Now they are saying that the microphone chord was found wrapped around the throttle, forcing it to be maximum engaged. There are reports that the operator got off the train before it left the station and enabled a system that allowed the train to travel if the signaling system was not working. They say he was hit by the train, or otherwise injured and was released from the hospital and is under investigation by the T. We certainly have not heard the last of this incident.

Bad week for the "T". Yesterday, a woman was killed at Downtown Crossing as she was on the tracks. On Tuesday, a guy was seriously injured in Broadway by a train.....



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