Two MBTA Green Line trolleys collided in the tunnel near Park Street Station in Boston, and the accident is being blamed on the operator of the train who was texting his girlfriend while driving. His recklessness forced the train he hit 100 feet down the tunnel, derailed both trains, and injured dozens of passengers on both trains.
The train crash occurred at about 7:18 PM, and the westbound trolley cars were full of commuters headed home and families headed to the Red Sox game. Dozens of people were taken to area hospitals, some with orthopedic injuries.
According to investigators, the first trolley, which consisted of two cars, was stopped at a red signal short of the station. The second trolley, which also had two cars, rear-ended the stopped train. The 24-year-old driver was looking at his cell phone, texting his girlfriend, and when he looked up it was too late to stop. Investigators have not yet determined the speed of the train.
MBTA drivers are forbidden to use cell phones or to text while driving. According to T General Manager Daniel Grabauskas, the driver will probably be fired (we hope so!), and he may also face criminal charges.
The MBTA will be held liable for the injuries sustained by the passenges on the trains. The T is vicariously liable for the negligence of its operators, and operator negligence seems extremely clear in this case. As a common carrier, the MBTA has a high duty of care to its passengers to prevent accidents.
UPDATE (4/18/08): The MBTA has filed suit against CSX Transportation and Cohenno lumber company of Stoughton, Massachusetts. The suit alleges that the runaway freight car did not have its hand brakes set, that chocks were not in place, that lumber yard were moving the car improperly, and that the derailing devices were not properly used on the tracks. As a result, the fully loaded freight car, weighing approximately
112 tons, left the yard and traveled approximately three miles before striking the commuter train with hundreds aboard. The accident injured around 150 passengers.
The MBTA claims that the crash as cost it over $1 million in property damage and overtime expenses. Passengers who suffered personal injuries are not part of this case.
Boston Globe April 18, 2008
ORIGINAL BLOG: It looks like an alert train engineer acted quickly and helped reduce what could have been an even more serious accident on the MBTA Stoughton commuter rail line on March 25th. According to news reports, the evening commuter train was outbound from Boston with approximately 600 passengers. A track signal warned that a car was on the tracks ahead, and the engineer was able to stop the train. However, he was not able to avoid the collision with the runaway freight car which hit the engine head-on.
At least 150 people were injured in the train accident. It has been reported that the injuries were not serious, except for the engineer. Standing passengers were thrown to the floor. Cuts from
head injuries were common, people suffered broken noses, facial cuts, twisted ankles, neck injuries, and back injuries. Passengers were dazed from the impact. Area ambulance crews and local emergency rooms were overwhelmed.
The cause of the accident appears to be a runaway freight car loaded with lumber. News reports indicate that the freight car was parked at a lumber yard. It apparently rolled from the yard, and
had sufficient momentum to roll for miles down the track before colliding with the train.
The cause of the accident is under investigation, but this much is known. When a freight car is left at a customer yard on a track spur or siding, it needs to be parked and secured properly.
Three things are required: the hand brakes must be set, the wheels must be block (or “chocked”), and a derailing device must be placed to prevent the car from leaving the yard. Somehow, despite these safety requirements, the heavy freight car did enter the main train line and cause the crash.
If the MBTA commuter rail train had not stopped before the crash, the accident would have been much more severe.As it was, the commuters reported that it felt like the train had “hit a wall.”
Freight car rams commuter train, injuring 150, Boston Globe, March 26, 2008
Scores injured in Canton commuter rail crash, Boston Herald, March 26, 2006
If you need a lawyer to handle your MBTA train accident case, please contact us toll free at 1-800-379-1244, or use the contact form on this page. The lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck have decades of experience in handling passenger accident cases. For more information
on choosing a train accident attorney, visit our page on Personal Injuries Caused by Train Accidents.