Tuesday, March 25, 2008

MBTA Train Collides With Boxcar

This evening while waiting for my train from South Station, I heard there were problems on lines heading towards Providence and Stoughton, in addition to Amtrak trains. It turns out, there was an accident where a boxcar collided with an MBTA commuter train.

Here is the text of the article from Boston.com

An MBTA passenger train collided with a runaway freight car near Canton Junction during rush hour tonight, injuring at least 100 passengers, according to Stoughton Police Captain Jim Bertram. The train, No. 917, had left Boston's South Station for Stoughton at 4:40 p.m. and was hit by a rolling train car at about 5:20, officials said.

Early reports suggested minor injuries. But dozens of ambulances were transporting passengers to hospitals for treatment."We knew we were coming into Canton Junction and suddenly the train stopped," said Tony Phillips, a 42-year-old passenger who works for a Boston ad firm and lives in Stoughton. "All the sudden, there was a bang, a huge explosion. People were screaming 'Oh my God, what happened?'"

The train did not derail.The train engineer saw the boxcar and was able to stop before the collision, minimizing the impact, said Scott Farmelant, a spokesman for Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company, the private company that runs the MBTA’s commuter rail.

The boxcar is owned by CSX Transportation, whose spokesman did not immediately return a page.

Cliff Black, an Amtrak spokesman, said Amtrak maintains that part of the track, but the lumber car rolled in from a part of the track maintained by the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company. Service on the Providence/Stoughton commuter lines is suspended and Amtrak trains were also delayed.

We at Train Stopping commend the MBTA for handling the emergency situation well and hope that everyone who rides this train and was affected by the accident is alright.


Anonymous said...

I can't believe how rapidly mistruths spread. First of all, the whole "boxcar thing" is incorrect. If you look at the WVCB or whatever the Boston TV News station is, they have photos you can view. The car was actually a "centerbeam lumber car" and whey must you people complain about trains being late? Do you have no life? I wish people like you would drive your cars, or be thankful for the alternative and quite your gripping. You people are the reason that congress wants to completely kill passenger rail in this country. You're all LOSERS in my book.

DJHeini said...

Is this the type of liability that CSX is trying to get out of as a condition of selling the Framingham/Worcester tracks to the MBTA?

Anonymous said...

Sir the box car crashed into the train.

the train made an emergency stop before the runaway box car HIT the STOPPED TRAIN.

How can a stopped train, colide with the runaway boxcar?

we are talking common sense here.

Commute-a-holic said...


I would like to address your comment about people like Train Rider, myself and visitors to Train Stopping - we are thankful to have an alternative to driving. When we complain, we are not complaining about a train being late due to an accident or an explainable situation. Rather, our complaints focus on when the trains are late and there really isn't a reason. Or if there is a reason, it isn't explained to the riders.

Both Train Rider and I are active proponents of mass transit. We believe more people should be using mass transit. However, in order for people to give up their cars, there must be a reliable system in place. For many individuals in Massachusetts, Southern New Hampshire and Rhode Island, there are not a lot of alternatives to single car commutes.

In fact, Train Rider and I would love to see our nation develop train system akin to Europe's or Japan's. We both travel fairly extensively for our jobs and we would love to be able to have a fast, reliable alternative to airplanes. It is unfortunate that the auto industry has such a gripe on our nation's psyche. But hopefully with the rising cost of oil and the increasingly complicated environmental issues, Americans will be encouraged to support alternatives to the single driver car.

Since neither Train Rider nor I were live on the scene yesterday in Canton, we could only rely on the news about this accident reported by the major news organizations. You should contact Boston.com/The Boston Globe or any other news organization that reported misinformation. I assume that reporting on the scene of an accident at rush hour that coincides with the evening news broadcasts is probably a difficult job.

The purpose of Train Stopping is to raise the dialogue of improving mass transit in Massachusetts.

Thank you for visiting.


Anonymous said...

I would like to know how on earth a single freight car full of lumber could coast for 3 MILES without anyone reporting it (1) on the tracks, and (2) missing from the lumber yard! Mind-boggling incompetence. The law suits should be incredible from this one...

Anonymous Train Rider on a MBTA/MBCR Commuter Rail Line

DJHeini said...


Someone from the lumber yard actually did call 911, and they played the audio on WBZ news this afternoon. The dispatcher seemed unclear on how to handle the report of a train car escaping from the lumberyard. I don't think that would fall under the standard situations that a 911 dispatcher would be trained on, and I could understand why they wouldn't have been able to process the information, find the right person at the MBTA/Amtrak/CSX to contact and get word to the train all within the short amount of time between the report and the collision (I think it was 10 or 15 minutes)

Anonymous said...

This is exactly the type of liability CSX wants to avoid. A lot of that whole bit is of course grandstanding and I'm sure CSX is tired of being bashed in the media, which may be one reason the are insisting on the indemnity clause. But I hope that this incident helps remind them that an accident is not a far-fetched hypothetical.

Also, thanks for the blog. I agree entirely with commute-a-holic's comment above. As a transit agency (non-MBTA) employee, customer service must be the top priority of any transportation provider.