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MBTA ordered to undergo safety training following runaway train incidents

FTA orders immediate safety standdown on MBTA after series of runaway trains
FTA orders immediate safety standdown on MBTA after series of runaway trains 02:48

BOSTON – Federal safety officials are cracking down on the MBTA after recent runaway train incidents. The Federal Transit Administration has issued a safety standdown. The MBTA must now retrain all employees who work on trains. 

In a letter to the MBTA, the FTA said, "a combination of unsafe conditions and practices exist such that there is a substantial risk of death or personal injury."

The letter comes in response to a series of rollaway trains, the latest, an empty Red Line train on Monday morning that rolled roughly 800 feet. There have been three rollaway incidents reported since late May. No injuries have been reported.

"They are not worried about the passengers. In this case, they worried about the workers. The workers are in jeopardy," Transportation safety expert Carl Berkowitz said.

Berkowitz says for the feds to intervene with a local transit agency is rare and this first letter is likely just the beginning.

"They want every single road working employee to be trained," Berkowitz said. "I mean this is not a small feat."

Riders are grateful the T will be safer and have fewer accidents. They're frustrated with constant delays.

"Every time we get on the train, we are late to work," a rider said Friday night. "I work at the hospital. Can I get to the hospital on time please?"

They, too, hope this federal intervention is just the tip of the iceberg for a safer, more efficient T.

"If it happens once, you say oh it's an anomaly. If it happens all the time, you can't call it an anomaly," Berkowitz said. "Safety and culture needs to start at the top and work its way down. Everybody has to be onboard. When a person out in the field causes an injury or an accident, we can't blame them, you've got to blame his training."

A spokesperson for the MBTA says the T will comply with this order and is committed to providing the training and tools necessary to its employees.

The training will last 15 minutes and will not impact service, according to the T.

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