Driverless Boston Commuter Train Travels 5 Miles

Driverless Boston Commuter Train Travels 5 Miles
trolleway via Compfight cc

A Boston-area commuter with passengers aboard traveled five miles without an operator, and was subsequently brought to a stop.


At a news conference, Governor Charlie Baker said that the operator stepped off the train at 6:08 a.m. at the Braintree station on the MBTA’s Red Line to examine a signal that was experiencing a problem. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) spokesman, Joe Pesaturo, said that the operator suffered minor injuries after he was struck by the train as it pulled away, as reported by KDVR.

“There was a signal issue that made it necessary for the operator to request and receive from the operations control center permission to put the train into bypass mode,” Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation, Stephanie Pollack, said. “The operator left the train to execute that procedure. Bypass mode allows the train to depart the station, even if it’s not receiving the signal that it would otherwise use to operate on its own.”

To put the train into bypass mode, the full brake service and the hand brake need to be initiated, MBTA Chief Operating Officer Jeff Gonneville said. It is investigated whether the appropriate procedures were followed.

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“Operator error is the current focus of the investigation,” Pollack said.

The line ahead of the train was cleared. The train traveled through four stations before coming to a stop past the North Quincy stop, as reported by CNN. The train is being examined.

“Inspection of the train determined that some of the controls had been manipulated,” Baker said. “It’s pretty clear that [the train] was set in forward motion, which is why it moved in the first place when the signal was manipulated.” Michael Verseckes, spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, said, “We are looking at everything and exploring all options,” Verseckes said.

“Passenger safety is the highest priority for the MBTA and this highly troubling incident is under investigation by Transit Police detectives,” Frank DePaola, MBTA General Manager, said.