BOSTON — An MBTA train operator has been placed on administrative leave after 2 Green Line trains collided on Friday, injuring 25 people, the MBTA said Saturday.
That train operator was operating the first car of the two-car train that struck the other two-car train from behind, according to the MBTA. The unidentified train operator has worked for the MBTA for seven years.
It was chaos on Commonwealth Avenue after 2 Green Line trains collided just after 6 p.m. on Friday.
Twenty-five people were rushed by ambulance to area hospitals, including four train operators (two on each of the trolleys).
“We had two trains heading westbound on the big branch of the green line. And the trailing train collided with the train in front of it,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak during a press conference Friday night.
Why that happened is unclear. The speed limit on the section of the Green Line that runs through Boston University’s campus is just 10 miles an hour. It’s also unclear how fast that trailing train was traveling when it slammed into the other.
MBTA announced Saturday morning that the train service has been restored between Kenmore and Washington Street while shuttle buses continue to be phased out.
MBTA told Boston 25 Saturday afternoon that the National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the collision.
Witnesses say they heard it, they saw it and they felt it. They heard a loud bang and saw smoke and felt the ground shake from the chaotic Friday evening commute on the T.
“You actually did feel the thump, it was pretty loud,” said Matt Benoit, who works nearby.
That thump came after two MBTA trains collided near Babcock Street. It was so violent the nearby businesses felt it.
“I was making some pizzas and the ground started shaking,” said Miltch Pierre of Blaze Pizza. “Everything started shaking over there and when I looked over, I was just a bunch of smoke.”
When the smoke cleared, the injuries became visible.
“I saw someone holding their neck,” said Pierre. “One girl had blood all over her face and her chin. Pretty gruesome.”
“The glass is broken and the lights are all mangled,” said witness Emma Payne. “The metal is mangled. They must’ve had some serious speed going.”
The crash didn’t just leave a mangled mess, but delays for everyone else including Payne, who was exactly two trains behind and said she would if been on it had she left work earlier.
“It was a little scary because that could’ve been me,” said Payne. “I’m very grateful that I wasn’t on the train and my heart goes out to the people who were.”
A total of about 70 people were on the two trains, including the operators of each train who witnesses could hear yelling at each other.
“She was very upset,” said Pierre. “She was screaming at the train behind her.”
How this happened will be under investigation as the cleanup work begins.
“It’s not good for the taxpayers of Boston to destroy millions of dollars worth of equipment,” said Benoit.
All of the reported injuries are described as non-life-threatening, including the four train operators.
“They are currently under medical treatment. It’s likely they will be on leave while the investigation is completed,” Poftak said. “There is significant damage to the infrastructure so that’s part of what we’re also going to have to repair.”
And according to Poftak, they will figure out what happened.
“We will obviously get to the bottom of this ... to find out why it happened and make sure it won’t happen again,” he said.
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