Green Line derailment 6th this year at MBTA

Preliminary investigation blames operator error

A PRELIMINARY MBTA investigation is blaming operator error for Wednesday morning’s Green Line derailment, the transit authority’s sixth passenger-service derailment in 2019 and the third caused by human error.

T officials said the second car of the two-car Green Line train derailed shortly after leaving Riverside Station on the D line at about 6 a.m. “The preliminary investigation shows the train’s operator did not have the signal system’s authorization to proceed. By not allowing the track switch to be properly aligned, the second car of the train came off the rails,” the T said in a statement, pointing out that the train’s operator had been hired in March.

No one was injured; only one passenger was on board at the time of the incident. Shuttle buses provided service on a portion of the D Line until the train was put back on to the tracks and subway service resumed before noon.

“I want to apologize to the Green Line customers whose commutes were disrupted this morning,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “We will complete the formal investigation as soon as possible and take corrective action if needed. We can and we must do better.”

According to T records, the Green Line train was the sixth in-service derailment this year at the T. Three occurred on the Green Line, two on commuter rail, and one on the Red Line on June 11. Of the six, one commuter rail and two Green Line derailments appear to have been caused by human error. Another Green Line derailment in February was caused by a track issue. The remaining two incidents – one from April on the commuter rail and the June Red Line derailment – are still being investigated.

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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.

The six in-service incidents so far in 2019 are the most since 2016, when there were seven in total. The T also struggles with derailments of maintenance vehicles – six so far in 2019, 10 in 2018, and eight in 2017.

After the Red Line derailment in June, which the T has still not fully recovered from, the Fiscal and Management Control Board appointed a panel of outside experts led by former US transportation secretary Ray LaHood to review the derailments and agency safety practices. A preliminary report from the safety panel is expected next week.