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You'll never guess why Needham trains were late: Somebody's parking was less than great

Turtle car hit by train in Needham

Somebody parked their formerly expensive car just a little too close to the tracks at the Needham Heights station this mornin Needham Line train took exception and flipped that puppy upside down. One train was canceled and others were delayed, although things were mostly back on track by 8:20 a.m. or so.

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Comments

Is Charlie Baker going to reform the T. Why should knocking over a car slow down the whole line? Where are the flying commuter rail cars??? Thanks Charlie.

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Most people don't complain when the problem isn't the T's fault, as in this case.

That said, people who drive like this should pay. Charge the guy (his insurance) for $100k to cover possible damage to the locomotive, emergency responder's time, etc. The should be the standard whenever someone fails to give right of way to a train and causes a collision.

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And terminate their license. But of course they won't do that even though this person put hundreds of people's lives in danger. How hard is it to NOT park your car on train tracks?!? If I were as dumb as this driver I don't know how I'd ever show my face to anyone again out of shame and embarrassment. I'd move into the woods like the Maine Hermit.

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Looks like it was maybe an employee? Read the yellow sign in the link below.

https://goo.gl/maps/CxmWviLTTV82

The car was probably parked where the silver or green truck was in the linked street view.

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Indeed, this is employee parking.

Which begs the question: shouldn't MBTA employees know how to park such that they are not fouling the tracks?

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The Globe reports that, yes, the car belongs to a Keolis employee.

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I mean, it has to be right?

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However, I am having trouble finding any similar incidents anywhere - this is a very rare event. That doesn't mean that the person who parked inappropriately shouldn't be sanctioned severely, but that it isn't really something that rises to the level of public safety importance that drivers/cyclists/pedestrians getting killed playing beat the train does.

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You can always find extenuating circumstances with a moving incident but to leave your car where a tracked vehicle (like a train) can't help but hit it is crazy irresponsible.

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When you work for a railroad and should have some idea of how much clearance is needed.

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the claim would be punishment enough. And what's the over/under on how soon the fiscal control board decides to replace the employee parking with pay meters for commuters?

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Well, one reason might be that depending on where it was, there might only be one track there, or if there are two, there might not be sufficient clearance between the two of them at that point (the track forks somewhere in the vicinity). Also, the commuter rail is so short of equipment that anything like this gums up the works on the entire line. Just ask anyone on the Framingham/Worcester line (if you haven't heard about the line's <60% on-time performance in November, it has really been something awful).

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The one train that was cancelled was cancelled because it hit the car. Fortunately the Needham layover is just south of where this incident happened, so it didn't trap the other trains.

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I think he/she was joking, but I base that assumption only on the fact that we do not have flying trains.

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Why doesn't the MBTA have flying trains?

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The MBTA is poorly run and underfunded but stupid car drivers are easily one of the top reasons for delays. Stuff like this happens every week.

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Trains hit parked cars every week??

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That's stupid driving, regardless of whether those cars are moving or parked.

Just check the UHub archives.

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It's the fault of the driver of the car, whether s/he is an employee or not, for parking so close to the tracks, but maybe the MBTA should've put some sort of guard rail or jersey barrier between the parking lot and the tracks to prevent drivers from being so stupid in the first place. The MBTA has been fucked up forever, and Charlie Baker hasn't helped matters any.

That being said, I fault the car driver's stupidity, the MBTA, and Charlie Baker for this unnecessary mishap.

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I'm not surprised. When I lived in Brookline, on Beacon Street, I witnessed many instances of people trying to cross Beacon at Coolidge Corner ahead of two Green Line T cars each coming from opposite directions. As my engineer-math son observed, the two Green Line cars wouldn't even notice the cars as they crushed it.

When I was in Cambridge in grad school in 1974-1976, taxis got taken out by a train a couple of times on the tracks across Broadway.

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on their side, Green Line streetcars have one additional advantage in the fight. Unlike the automobiles that challenge them, they all come equipped with a built-in battering ram (coupler) on the front bumper.

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How did taxis manage to get hit at the Grand Junction crossing? At least these days, trains come to a stop and wait for traffic to stop for them.

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The MBTA has a police force. They could be used to help the trains (and buses) run on time. How? By patrolling bus stops, rail parking lots, and other MBTA infrastructure for illegally parked or standing vehicles, and then ticketing or towing.

If an MBTA officer happened to be patrolling the lot (for cars parked illegally in non-spaces, handicap spaces, etc) and saw this, he could have radioed (a) for a flag man to come out, and (b) for a tow truck to come out. Either one would have prevented this.

I'm not arguing that there is a reasonable 100 percent sure way to prevent this. I am arguing that a better use of the MBTA police force would reduce delays big and small both by direct action (tows and chasing drivers out of places their cars don't belong) and indirect (once the Globe writes a story about the MBTA police writing tickets like gangbusters, folks will be less inclined to park their cars where they don't belong).

It's a stretch in this specific case, sure... but the big idea is sound.

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The problem with that line of thought in this case is that this was most likely a T employee's car. It was parked in an employee lot. It also wasn't necessarily illegally parked. It is legal for employees to park there, they were evidently just parked a little too close to the tracks.

A Transit Cop patrolling the employee parking area is not going to catch something like this.

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Parking too close to the tracks isn't illegal?

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Not necessarily. For one, it's not a public parking space. It's a railroad employee parking along the railroad right of way.

If a cop were to write a ticket for this, it wouldn't be a parking violation, but rather something railroad-specific, e.g. trespassing or some obscure law about obstructing railroad tracks.

My point was that a transit cop looking for parking violations most likely wouldn't have caught this.

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Parking too close to the tracks isn't illegal?

Parking too close to the tracks should be illegal, then.

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They're not staffed well enough to handle the subways and bus routes! They have little to no presence out in commuter rail land. I heard they're fleeing that place in record numbers this year.

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I find this a little hard to believe so if the police are quitting in large numbers we would be reading about the exodus in the media.

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One would think that a weekend spent at an upscale driving school learning to drive it and park it wouldn't be any big deal.

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Entitlist Audi driver in a hurry

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Did anyone get video of this?

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"Somebody parked their formerly expensive car just a little too close to the tracks"

The van was pushed into the car, causing the car to be flipped.

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Who decided it was ok to have a parking area next to a train track with no guard rail, or even a painted line showing how far to park from the tracks? This was bound to happen eventually.

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No wonder they don't ride the rails like the rest of us. Why do employees get to park their cars at Quincy station and Andrew and all the bus ways throughout the system for free while the rest of us get parking tickets.

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The people parking there are probably Keolis employees who work onboard trains on the Needham line.

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