Trolleys collide at Boylston; at least six to hospital

Passenger on way to ambulance. Photo by John Keith.Passenger on way to ambulance. Photo by John Keith.

UPDATE, 2:36 p.m.: The MBTA reports the station and tracks are back in service and Green Line service has resumed with, of course, residual delays.

Emergency responders raced to Boylston station, where one outbound trolley rear-ended another around 11:50 a.m. Matthew Gamber, who was in the first car of the train that got hit, tweeted at 11:54:

B Line outbound at Boylston just came to screeching stop, tossing unsuspecting passengers. Not leaving station soon.

The Boston Fire Department reports at least six people were transported to local hospitals for evaluation. NECN tweets a total of 35 people were evaluated for injuries.

The department says nobody was entrapped and that neither trolley derailed.

John Keith, on scene, reports EMTs set up a triage area on Boston Common. One passenger told him, "it felt like a bomb went off."

Traffic around the area quickly ground to a halt as ambulances raced to the scene and set up on Tremont Street to await the injured.

On the platform. Photo by BFD.On the platform. Photo by BFD.

This is the first Green Line collision to result in injuries since Oct. 8, when two E trolleys became entangled. Scott Page tweets that the hitting trolley car, 3679, was last in a collision in 2004.



Free tagging: 


Nation's priorities

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I hear that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano sighed quite the sigh of relief when she heard that it was only an antiquated signaling system that likely caused today's crash and injuries and not a bomb that her bag search team at Oak Grove might have missed this morning.

She also expressed relief that it was not one of the DHS-funded giant backpacks that crashed into the train.

Actually, Janet, it's quite obvious that our nation's homeland "security" spending over the past decade is contributing to the fall of a lot of our infrastructure to third-world status.

Useless Yellow Dog

Maybe they could train that useless yellow sandwich sniffer that barks incessantly to sniff out bad switches?

Would probably save more lives.

I remain thoroughly convinced

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I remain thoroughly convinced that two trains could collide at speed because of deferred maintenance, killing hundreds, and Secretary Napolitano would not bat an eyelid. The greatest threat to this homeland's security lies not in terrorism but in paltry investments in infrastructure.

That sounds like terrorist

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That sounds like terrorist talk. Why don't you go step into this millimeter-wave scanner so we can clear you for dangerous materials, and then we can continue this chat in our gulag discussion facility?

Giant Back packs

I'm waiting for some pranksters to stuff some sort of fireworks or alarm clock or siren or something in one of them. The one in Harvard is/was so far off to the side that you could hide behind it in a poorly lit area.

Oh, noes, not the cable!

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Oddest tweet out of the whole thing is from Emerson College:

The #MBTA accident today affected cable reception on campus. We are aware of the problem and it being addressed.


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yeah Comcast leases tunnel space to run conduit to provide service. Cheaper than digging up streets to pull new cable.

But WHY a crash is effecting cable tv service.. outside of a a wire being torn down, can't really think of any other reason.

Did the Boston Fire Department

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request all power in the station (not just track power) be shut off? If so, it could be that Comcast has some equipment (signal amplifier) that was affected when the power was pulled.

Looking at the video, it's hard to see how the crash could've pulled cable wire, which is run along the sides of the tunnel and not the roof.

Yikes, look at the alerts

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Yikes, look at the alerts going out now:

Green Line Alert: Due to an earlier accident, Boylston Street Station is closed. Customers desiring downtown service should continue to utilize Haymarket, Downtown Crossing, Back Bay, and North Station to make downtown connections. Please expect delays in service.

Green Line passengers at Hynes, Copley, and Arlington desiring outbound Cleveland Circle- and Riverside-Branch service should utilize any train to Kenmore and transfer to the C- and D-Line. Green Heath Street passengers should utilize the Route 39 bus service. 11/29/2012 12:49 PM

No E train or downtown Green traffic until they clear this up. Should make for an exciting afternoon commute.

One thing that's not clear from the T's alert

Whether there's service running through Boylston station, on the inner tracks, or whether southside service short-turns at Arlington and northside service short-turns at Park Street.


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it doesn't say if the B line is still running or not.

I could walk outside my office and look, but it's cold out and I'm feeling lazy.

The B line is running, but

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The B line is running, but inbound it stops at Arlington. Everyone who wanted outbound for the C and D branches must use the B trains to disembark at Kenmore because they are short-turning those branches there.

Boylston was closed

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Boylston was closed entirely. No trains going through there. Southside service was short-turned at Arlington. Northside service short-turns at Government Center.

When I arrived at Park Street station around 12:15PM wanting to get home to Cleveland Circle, I was told to go to the Orange Line Downtown Crossing station, ride to Back Bay station, then walk to Copley for the Green Line outbound trains.

Speaking of priorities?

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How many news helicopters were in the air, and for how long?

How much per hour does it cost to operate a helicopter?

What value to society is there in live aerial footage of a scene where the main event was, umm, underground?

Could anyone imagine any sort of preventive maintenance or signal upgrades toward which that money could have been spent?

Apples and Oranges

The helicopters are private and leased by TV stations which get their funding from selling Ads. Not like WHDH can't decide between leasing a helicopter or funding a green line switch replacement project. If you don't think the helicopters are worth the money, don't buy the products advertised.

The real disappointment is to think how much money the MBTA/Government will spend on the emergency services, the lawsuits, replacement part, etc and think about how that money could have been spent upgrading antique equipment which caused the problem in the first place.

Big picture

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yeah, I get that. My point is that "We", collectively, for some large value of "we" including TV watchers, product purchasers, etc, through the operation of the market, choose to spend the money on helicopters.

No, the news media chooses to

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waste their money on helicopters, whether we decide we want them to or not. "Pooling" information (one copter for all stations) is not entirely unreasonable here.

Yes, it may be a free market. However, even if we decide not to watch a particular news station, we as society still pay the price for this total waste of money and resources through increased advertising, which forces companies to charge more for their products and reduce the size and quality of said products while charging more to offset those costs.

And, no matter the importance of the story, there is really no legitimate reason to have multiple news copters in the sky fighting for space in the hopes of getting an "exclusive" angle. A few years ago, Houston had a serious crash involving two ENG (electronic news gathering) helicopters fighting for the same airspace - it's only a matter of time before something similar happens in Boston.

Big break for local TV news

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This is the biggest break the local TV news stations ever got. They were already there to cover tonight's Christmas tree lighting which is only feet away from the Boylston T Stop. They didn't even have to move their trucks.

why blame antiquidated equipment ?

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Why are people blaming antiquated equipment? Isn't it enough to think that the driver should stop for a train clearly in front of him/her? The outbound side from Park St to Boylston has good sight lines so the driver of the second train should have clearly seen the train ahead. You'd think that would be a minimum capability for any driver on the T. I am having difficulty seeing how this is not driver error, unless the brakes failed.

Perhaps someday we'll have a

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Perhaps someday we'll have a Green Line where a distracted driver cannot cause the collision of two trains carrying hundreds of riders; where passengers standing out in 20° winter cold will know how many minutes till the next train comes; where it doesn't take 45 minutes to go five miles.

Perhaps someday.

Be careful what you wish

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Be careful what you wish for.

When Philadelphia and San Francisco got brand new computerized signal systems for their trolley tunnels, it caused huge traffic delays which hadn't existed before.

You'd think with all the hundreds of millions spent on consultants and computer simulations that a first-world country would be able to design a signal system including train stop protection which had as much traffic capacity as the 100-year-old system it replaced, but that's not how things work in the U.S.

third world

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>> a first-world country would be able to design …

There's your problem right there. You know what happens when you assume …

Even lacking a signal system,

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Even lacking a signal system, people manage to stop their cars many times a day before slamming into what is in front of them. Can't tell you how many times over the years I've seen people on our street successfully pull into the driveways and stop before hitting their house. And I'm sure our street isn't unique in that regard.
Per trip, the green line must have alot of accidents compared to cars.

Yes, it is most likely this was caused by

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driver negligence. However, that driver negligence may have been prompted by a long-standing management policy regarding signal operation.

The Green Line has several locations where block signals are permanently set at red, even if the track ahead is clear and the operator can see the track is clear. In fact, the train that Adien Quinn hit while texting was stopped waiting for just such a signal to clear - note that the signal in question had been changed to absolute stop about a month prior to the Quinn crash (perhaps because of the texting evidence, the NTSB did not conduct a detailed review of Green Line signal practices as part of their investigation).

At such locations, it is not uncommon for many operators to blow through those signals at speed. I see this happen at least a few times a week. In fact, I really noted this behavior one morning in February 2012, when our operator (westbound E car) had blown through every red signal between North Station and Park Street, and was about to blow through the red signal outside of Bolyston (location of the latest crash), when he stopped because he saw a train on the platform at the last minute.

I noted the car number, time of morning, destination of train, and the operator's badge number, and submitted a complaint to "Write to the Top". Immediately got the "robo e-mail" acknowledging receipt - along with a case number. When I contacted the MBTA about a month later to inquire about the status of my complaint (prompted by witnessing another close call), I was told they had no record of my complaint.

While the last signal protecting the Boylston outbound platform is not set up as "absolute stop", I believe it is not unreasonable that some operators might disregard signals as a matter of course. And the Boylston signal has another feature - it's located right at a switch with a switch position light that's green. At a quick glance, one could easily mistake the switch light for the block signal especially if they're tired or otherwise distracted.

That was fast

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Boylston Street Station is now open and normal service routes are resuming. Customers should expect 20- to 25-min residual delays in service

The cars did not derail, once

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The cars did not derail, once the injured were taken care of and safety officials could test everything, the damaged cars where moved and service resumed. If any of the cars had derailed, it would have been much longer before service could be resumed.

Some newer cars, including

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Some newer cars, including the 2013 Subaru Legacy, come equipped with a collision avoidance system with auto-brake. Meanwhile, the T claims it would cost at least $100 million for them to install a similar system.