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Green Line Operator Put Train In 'Full-Power Position' Before July Crash, NTSB Report Finds

BOSTON (CBS) – Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) say the operator of a Green Line train put it into "full-power position" before it crashed into another train earlier this year.

The results of the NTSB's preliminary report in the July 30 crash were released Tuesday.

Read: NTSB Preliminary Report Into Green Line Crash

Investigators said a Green Line train traveling westbound on Commonwealth Avenue was going 31 miles per hour, which was three times the speed limit in that area, when it slammed into the back of another train that was going just 10 mph.

The NTSB says it has not yet determined the official cause of the crash and has not ruled out anything, including operator error.

Green line crash
This Green Line train slammed into another one on the B branch, July 30, 2021. (Image Credit: NTSB)

An MBTA spokesman said the operator was placed on administrative leave on July 31, then suspended without pay effective September 20.

"The MBTA is taking the steps necessary to end the employment of the individual involved in the collision," the spokesman said.

The crash threw people from their seats, including 24 passengers and three crew members.

While NTSB has yet to issue its final report, transportation expert Carl Berkowitz is sure it's going to point to human error.

"It looks there was no sight distance problem. There was no weather problem. There was nothing," said Berkowitz. "Rarely do you have this kind of failure where a train goes from 10 miles an hour to 30 miles an hour. Or goes from breaking mode and goes into acceleration mode. It just doesn't happen."

Investigators said that before the crash, the operator of the striking train placed the master controller in a full-power position.

That driver, who has not been identified, was placed on administrative leave.

Gov. Charlie Baker was asked about the report Tuesday morning, but said he had not yet seen it.

"I do believe that driver was suspended but obviously we will take a look at that report and make adjustments accordingly," Baker said. "But I'm really glad nobody was hurt in that incident."

Passengers who were aware of the collision say they still have confidence in the trolleys.

"I trust them to get me where I need to go," one passenger said.

The MBTA also said in their statement that before the accident they had already earmarked $170 million to start automating the Green line.


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