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Rail News: Mechanical

Report: MBTA pulls Orange Line cars from service due to battery failure

FTA officials also discovered the system doesn’t have enough dispatchers in its operations control to safely manage transit service.
Photo – MBTA


The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has pulled all of its new Orange Line rail cars from service due to a battery failure in one car.

The new car was not in service at the time of the incident, according to agency spokeswoman Lisa Battiston, The Boston Globe reported. The incident follows other recent safety setbacks for MBTA, including a subway service reduction after the Federal Transit Administration determined the system doesn’t have enough dispatchers in its operations control to safely manage transit service.

MBTA is now running fewer trains on three of its subway lines, akin to a weekend schedule, until further notice.

The Massachusetts Legislature’s Committee on Transportation has announced plans to schedule an oversight hearing on MBTA in the coming weeks, according to a joint statement from State Senate President Karen Spilka and Speaker of the House Ronald Mariano.

On June 15,  the FTA directed the MBTA and the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities to take immediate action on safety concerns. The federal agency is performing a safety management inspection that began April 14 following multiple incidents that resulted in one fatality and injuries to several passengers and employees on the rail system.

Federal inspectors found that dispatchers were working 20-hour days and staff lapsed in proper safety certifications. Runaway trains had also injured workers, and multiple track sections were in significant disrepair with no plans to fix them, the Globe reported.

An escalator also malfunctioned at Chinatown Station, reversing direction from up to down with around 10 passengers on it, Battiston told the Globe. There were no injuries.

MBTA has been working on replacing the Orange Line fleet since 2014. The first of the new rail cars, manufactured by China Railway Rolling Stock Corp. in Shanghai, entered service in August 2019. A total of 152 new cars were planned to replace the fleet by the end of 2022.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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