NTSB: Train that rear-ended another was on ‘full power’

BOSTON (AP) — The operator of a light rail train that struck the rear of another train in the Boston area in July had turned the speed controller to full power, according to a federal report released Tuesday, and the regional transit agency said it is moving to fire the person.

The train accelerated to 31 mph before colliding with the train ahead of it, which had been moving at about 10 mph, according to the National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary report on the crash, which sent more than two dozen people to the hospital.

“A preliminary review of striking train’s event recorder data revealed that the operat​​​or of the striking train placed the master controller in a full-power position prior to the accident,” the report said.

The report did not say if the controller had been turned to full power on purpose or accidentally.

The driver was placed on unpaid leave Monday, and the agency is moving to fire the person, said Joe Pesaturo, a spokesperson Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, in an emailed statement. The operator’s name has not been made public.

The crash on the MBTA’s Green Line B branch on July 30 sent 24 passengers and three workers to the hospital, the report said. All injuries were considered minor.

The MBTA announced the day after the crash that the operator of the train in the rear had been placed on paid administrative leave.

The investigation continues, and the NTSB said it will now focus on internal and external oversight, operational testing, equipment, and employee fitness for duty.

Safe and reliable service are a priority for the T, Pesaturo said, adding that the agency is in the process of installing a $170 million safety system that will help monitor train speed and avoid collisions.

“Once the full system is installed and tested, all Green Line vehicles will be enabled with both an audible alarm and subsequent automatic braking, if required, to prevent collisions,” he said. The target year is 2024.

The trains, each consisting of two coupled railcars, were both westbound and crashed on the track running down the middle of Commonwealth Avenue west of Boston University.

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