Derailment at Andrew Station snarls commute

300 feet of electrified third rail damaged; service restored at 5:21 p.m.

A NORTHBOUND RED LINE TRAIN derailed Wednesday morning at 9:20 a.m. as it approached Andrew Station, damaging about 300 feet of the electrified third rail and severely disrupting the morning commute for thousands of riders. Passengers were shaken up but not injured.

Service was restored at 5:21 p.m., but MBTA officials still weren’t sure what went wrong.  In a statement prior to the reopening of the Red Line, MBTA General Manager Luis Ramirez said:  “While we realize this is a significant inconvenience to our customers, the Red Line will remain closed between Broadway and JFK until it is safe to resume service. Until then, our team continues to assess the damage, and make necessary repairs, while working to identify the root cause.”

A T statement issued during the afternoon said the train operator had reported an indication of a motor failure in the last car of the six-car train. Passengers said the train car seemed to hit a bump, windows shattered, and smoke filled the station.

The T statement said the car apparently derailed and then “re-railed itself” as it entered the station. The statement said the train was taken out of service but was able to exit the station under its own power.

The damaged track created havoc with the morning commute, as trains first stopped as officials tried to figure out what happened at Andrew Station and then buses began to shuttle passengers between the JFK/UMass Station in Dorchester and Broadway in South Boston. One train waited close to a half hour at Savin Hill Station until passengers were told the train was coming out of service. Many passengers walked from Savin Hill to JFK/UMass to catch buses. Commutes that normally take 20 to 30 minutes took two hours or more.

Shortly after the accident, thousands of passengers began pouring into the JFK/UMass Station, jamming into the few shuttle buses that initially showed up. A commuter rail train stopped at the station on its way into downtown and passengers flocked on board, filling every seat and the aisles.

For the evening commute, T officials urged travelers to consider alternative transit modes, including using the Middlborough/Lakeville and Kingston/Plymouth commuter rail lines to get between South Station and JFK/UMass, Quincy Center, or Braintree Stations. Officials said trains on the Greenbush Line could also be used to reach JFK/UMass and Quincy Center.

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

MBTA officials said Charlie Card tickets and passes would be accepted on the commuter rail trains at South Station, JFK/UMass, Quincy Center, and Braintree.

In addition to passengers grumbling about the T’s performance, one of the Democratic candidates for governor, Setti Warren, weighed in with an assessment that the accident was a sign that Gov. Charlie Baker’s efforts to improve the transit agency are failing. “His strategy of no new revenue and privatization is wrong,” he said. “Gov. Baker’s failure is causing declining ridership, forcing people into cars, and compounding the traffic gridlock spreading in all directions.”