As I ran for my Red Line train this morning at Downtown Crossing on the MBTA (or the T as it’s popularly known) there was an alert that there were severe delays in train service. Now having resided in Boston for more than 15 years this is hardly unusual and didn’t think much of it.
However, I would later learn that this was no ordinary “severe delay.”
Just after 6 a.m., an inbound Red Line train departed Braintree without a conductor. The train traveled non-stop until T officials managed to power it down a short distance past the North Quincy stop. They would subsequent board the train, get it to JFK/UMass and instructed passengers to disembark the train. Fortunately, no passengers were injured although a T employee suffered minor injuries after he was struck by the side of the train after it departed from Braintree.
Although the T is currently investigation what happened it would appear “that a safety device within the train’s cab may have been tampered with.” If this is the case then that is clearly disconcerting. Given last week’s terror attack in San Bernardino, one cannot help but think it a possibility. Mass transit offers a very attractive target to terrorists as evidenced with the Madrid train bombings in 2004, the London tube bombings in 2005 as well as numerous suicide bombs detonated aboard buses in Israel over the years.
If a safety device was tampered with one would be inclined to think it was a T employee. Or it could have been someone with a working knowledge of a train operating system and somehow made his way on T property while it wasn’t in operation. Whatever the case, I suspect that security will be beefed up on the T even more than it has already been in the wake of both San Bernardino and Paris.
UPDATE: Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker confirms there was tampering aboard the Red Line train. Baker said in an interview with The Boston Herald’s radio station, “This train was tampered with, and it was tampered with by somebody who knew what they were doing,” However, Baker said it was an isolated incident. If someone tries this once, who can say it won’t be tried again only with more tragic results?
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