Federal Transit Administration orders ‘immediate safety shutdown’ in MBTA

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The shutdown follows a lengthy FTA investigation, multiple runaway train accidents, and a death in early April.

A man waits for the Red Line to reach the city center on June 20, 2022. Karleen Steele / The Boston Globe

The Federal Transit Administration has ordered an “immediate safety shutdown” at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority after another runaway train accident.

This downtime will require a safety briefing for all workers who operate or secure out-of-service trains at an MBTA train station, according to a July 28 letter from FTA Chief Safety Officer Joe DeLorenzo, according to the Boston Globe.

“The FTA requires a safety moratorium to prevent the MBTA from allowing any worker who did not attend a safety conference to move any railcars in yards or stores,” the letter read.

These briefings became necessary because the federal agency “has determined that there is a set of unsafe conditions and practices such that there is a significant risk of death or personal injury,” according to the letter.

The briefings will include a review and discussion of the facts of three recent runaway train accidents, including the most recent at Braintree Station on the Red Line on Monday, and retraining of MBTA procedures. Each training will last 15 minutes and will be conducted on a rolling basis according to MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesatoro.

The renewable nature of the training will allow the MBTA to “maintain service at current levels with little disruption,” Pesaturo wrote in an email to Globe.

The directive, which is not the first of its kind from an FTA, comes after a lengthy safety investigation into the MBTA after the April 10 death of a passenger whose arm was stuck in the doors of a Red Line train. The first directive came on June 15, asking the MBTA to address four areas of safety issues including addressing unintended and uncontrolled train movements at maintenance facilities and railway yards.

One Twitter user described the bleak outlook for MBTA riders on July 22 when he wrote, “Another day of ‘signal delay’ on the MBTA but at least nothing is on fire today.”

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