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Red Line train derails at Alewife; Mass. Ave. corridor gridlocked

A Red Line train derailed about 200 yards from Alewife station shortly after 4 p.m. today.

Channel 4 tweets no reported injuries, adds 65 people were on the train. Rick Nohl reports the train jumped the tracks about 200 yards from Alewife and that fire and MBTA crews on the scene were evacuating passengers to the station. He adds two cars of a six-car train came off the tracks.

As the T substituted shuttle buses between Harvard and Alewife, traffic along and around Mass. Ave. quickly came to a complete standstill. Commuters reported 2 1/2-mile backups around the Alewife rotary, said people were getting from Harvard to Alewife faster by walking than taking the bus. Traffic began backing up on the other side of the river on Storrow Drive as traffic jams radiated out of Harvard Square.

The D'Alessandro report pointed to potential problems in this particular stretch of the Red Line tunnel:

"Floating" slabs rest atop a series of rubber disks that are designed to absorb the vibration of a train as it travels along the track. Water leaking through the tunnel walls is creating several problems.

Just yesterday, the MBTA had to slow Red Line travel through Porter Square because leaking water had weakened a wall to the point of collapse.

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Comments

shocker. they can't say they didn't see this coming...

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the Red Line dispatcher that all passengers have been evacuated from the derailed train, and that no injuries have been reported.

Also, they are currently running all trains between JFK and Alewife on manual block instructions, and are crossing back some trains to Braintree at JFK.

Gonna be a slow afternoon.

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They have alerts about various buses delayed by heavy traffic at shopping malls they serve, but nothing about a serious Red Line accident.

I'm glad I rode my bike to Harvard today.

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yet been posted on the MBTA web site, nor has the Red Line dispatcher issued the usual "make announcements" instructions to trains approaching Harvard yet. Typical.

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Can't remember exactly who at the T or MassDOT told me this (except that it wasn't Joe Pesaturo), but the T doesn't have a dedicated site-updater person - the people who send out alerts are the same people in the operations center who are dealing with whatever the emergency is, so, yeah, there can be a lag between the time of an event and the time an alert goes out.

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Take it as you will from an anon account, but this is 100% true. The people in the operations center create and post the alerts. They attempt to deal with the issue first, then post the information publicly as there is no one person solely dedicated to doing that.

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The site is now reporting a "disabled train." That's one way of putting it!

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around 4:30, but the website hadn't been updated. what a mess!

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Jen tweets it took her 50 minutes to get from Park to Harvard. Robin Low tweets that Harvard station is a zoo.

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Victoria Welch tweets people are getting from Harvard to Alewife faster by walking than by taking the replacement bus. If they're parked at Alewife, though, they won't be getting anywhere anytime soon thanks to massive traffic backups, Victoria Ryan tweets.

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I just rode my bike from Harvard Square to Davis -- a lot faster than any of the bus or car traffic. The city of Cambridge could help the bus-shuttle traffic situation a LOT by turning off every traffic light on Mass. Ave. between Harvard Square and Route 16 tonight. This would allow the buses to quickly travel between stations and would eliminate the traffic jam on Mass. Ave.

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Clearly this out-of-the-box thinking and creativity sounds like an excellent idea- which is why it will never happen.

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For instance, there is no reason to send buses from Harvard to Alewife up Mass. Ave, when they could instead take quiet Garden Street, Sherman Street, and Rindge Avenue. Buses to Porter and Davis could take Oxford and Elm streets instead of Mass. Ave. Some one-way streets could be made temporarily two-way, or vice versa, to accomodate the buses.

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Marc Ebuña captured Silver Line buses roaring through Davis Square:

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I saw some of these in Harvard Square, labelled SL5. These are the non-electric ones that usually run on Washington Street in the South End -- not the dual-modes that go through the tunnel at South Station and run to the airport.

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In the video, the first bus going by is one of the diesel-electric dual modes, while the second one is one of the CNGs. So both Silver Line bus types from both Silver Lines were used on the shuttle.

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I was standing outside of the Harvard Coop when three dual mode artics arrived in a line at about 5:20.

All I could think of was how surprising it was to see them there, and how good they still looked after around 5 years of service.

At around that point, the T had almost one of every type of bus in its fleet passing through the square.

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Dan Dunn, trying to get home to Arlington, snapped this photo.

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I guess that's why I was waiting for the best part of an hour between Central and Harvard for a #1 bus.

I could easily have walked to Harvard and back three times, and rather wish I had (well, once, anyway).

But I had so much time invested in waiting for the damn thing, and I just knew that as soon as I started walking, it would come whizzing infuriatingly past me.

When I'd lost most sensation in my toes, I finally gave up and went back home.

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Porter Square yesterday, Alewife today....id avoid Davis tomorrow.

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...otherwise it would have been a hellish commute back to Hyde Park if I didn't go through Watertown Square.

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I will not repeat verbatim my previous post, but I want to add this:

I have had the opportunity to work with Jeff Mullan on and off directly and indirectly for nearly a decade. He is a decent and honorable man, and he has the ability to put into place and maintain a top notch transportation system in our Commonwealth. He is not an alchemist, however. The Legislature must appropriate the money DOT needs to perform necessary maintenance now, or we will be playing the blame game for a lot of injuries and deaths in the near future. I do not believe I am overstating the case. I do not want to see any more people suffer the same fate as Melina delValle. There have simply been too many incidents over too short a period of time to not have something serious happen soon.

Hear me well, Legislators. If something happens and you have not acted appropriately, the blood will be on your hands.

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The root problem in all of this: MA is a state that appropriates funds each year, every year.

That means that it is impossible to put together a true maintenance plan in the long term.

Antiquated? You bet. MA is not alone in that regard, but MA simply hasn't learned its lesson yet. Washington had a similar system. Then they lost the Hood Canal Bridge to similar negligence and perpetual deferment of maintenance and all the same things that arise in system that fundamentally fails to accomodate the needs of infrastructure funding.

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Whoa. No more than 6 months ago similar incidents were adjudged by posters here firmly the fault of Dan Grabauskas alone.

For the record, I agree with the above statement, I just find the inconsistency quite remarkable.

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yeah, water leakage would seem to indicate a faulty wall structure...

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Such an inconvenience. I had a flight at 6pm and planned on walking ~25 minutes from my place to Alewife. I got there at 4:10pm which is JUST when this happened. I wish I knew that the entire inbound line wasn't out like we left the station thinking.

Too bad that...

1) None of the MBTA employees could tell me jack shit about what was going on
2) I called their customer service...was on hold for 25 minutes before deciding to hang up
3) Checked the site until 5pm. NOTHING. Over an hour after the incident.

This is ridiculous. I've just moved to this area and already strongly dislike the public transportation. I couldn't believe the hours are so limited for a metropolitan area. Surely writing them some sort of email letting them know how awesome of them it is to have an unreliable system and force people like me to pay for a week of parking at the airport.

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MBTA! WAAAAAHHH! I wanna bike!

I got down almost to the platform when other passengers warned "That train has been there for 20 minutes and isn't moving soon". No T people, no nothing - just other passengers. Then an announcement about busing comes over as I turn to head back up the stairs - partly heard - and half the people get off the train to try something else. People continued to warn others all the way up the stairs and across Dewey Square.

I walked 3/4 mile to the express bus. Best $2.80 I ever spent. I even had friends there ... with nip bottles.

How do you spell clusterf#$k? In four letters?

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Joe Pesaturo tells the Globe investigators are looking at issues with the train, not the tracks, as the cause of the derailment.

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To me, the fact that they even felt the need to clarify in the Globe that it wasn't related to Allessandro's report is meaningless - it's just damage control. They know they're up sh-it's creek without a paddle. And they know they got lucky that they were no injuries. They knew the train was going to derail - how exactly it derailed is missing the point.

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Here is my tweet about it.

Kranky and I also went to Market Basket and brought home two weeks worth of groceries. And I got home less than an hour and a half after I left work in Brookline!

/smug

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