T looking closely at operator error on Green Line crash
Anti-collision system due to be installed next year
MBTA GENERAL MANAGER Steve Poftak said there is no evidence that vehicle, signal, or track issues played any role in the collision Wednesday night of two Green Line trains at Government Center.
Poftak on Thursday said the T is looking closely at the possibility of operator error, but he stressed that the investigation is still ongoing and no conclusions have been reached about why one Green Line train carrying passengers slammed into another Green Line carrying no passengers, resulting in the derailment of both trains.
The general manager said the signal system, which operates much like a traffic light telling train operators when they can move forward, appeared to be working properly. The operator of the train that collided with the other had no safety violations on his driving record, Poftak said.
No passengers were injured. All four vehicle operators were taken to Massachusetts General Hospital Wednesday night and three of them were released Thursday morning. The health status of the fourth is unknown. Poftak said all four walked off the train.
Poftak said federal oversight agencies, including the Federal Transit Administration, which is in the midst of doing a safety review of the MBTA, were alerted about the crash.
Unlike the other subway lines, the Green Line doesn’t operate with an anti-collision system that automatically shuts down trains if they are in danger of colliding. MBTA officials have been talking about installing such a system for more than a decade, but Poftak said it won’t be in place until next year – even on an accelerated timeline.
He said the anti-collision system would likely have prevented a high-speed Green Line collision last August and the collision on Wednesday evening.“I surely wish it would have been installed much sooner,” Poftak said.
“I know these incidents are disturbing,” the general manager added. “To no one is it more disturbing than those of us who work here at the T who are committed to keeping the system as safe as we can. I continue to maintain that the MBTA is safe. I take the T on a regular basis, as does my family.”