MBTA releases dramatic video footage of June Red Line derailment
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Friday evening released dramatic video footage showing the June 11 Red Line derailment in Dorchester that wreaked havoc on commutes for days afterward.
The footage shows a Red Line train approaching a platform at the JFK/UMass stop. As it nears the stop, a series of what appear to be small explosions burst from the train and nearby infrastructure. Part of the train bucks off the track, with a car coming to rest at an off-kilter angle. Sparks rain down from infrastructure above the train, which stops near where the platform begins. A trio of commuters look on from benches, but don’t get up. Another angle shows flashes of fire more clearly as the train comes to a halt.
“It looks like it’s rocking a little bit as it comes into the station,” said Keith F. Millhouse, a California-based rail safety expert who reviewed the video. “There’s a lot of arcing and sparking.”
The rocking could be indicative of a number of things, said Millhouse, including the angle of the tracks, a broken piece of train equipment, or a misaligned switch. There are still questions to be answered, according to Millhouse.
“You can’t make a determination based on this video,” he said.
Top T officials never mentioned the existence of the video during three press conferences about the derailment and during two appearances before the board that oversees their operations, and only publicly acknowledged its existence following inquiries from the Globe on July 3, some three weeks after the incident.
The video adds visual drama to an incident that for frustrated commuters typified an inconsistent public transit system riddled with problems. In a letter to state Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack this week, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said, “the MBTA is not currently a functional service for many of the residents of Boston.”
In the days after the derailment, a trip from Braintree to South Station took an average of about 55 minutes, which was an increase of about 25 minutes for that trip, according to the MBTA. The same trip now takes about 40 minutes on average, the agency said in a Friday release.
During the derailment, which occurred at about 6 a.m., the 50-year-old train traveled some 1,800 feet as it smashed into bungalows of plywood that housed equipment that controls switches and signals on the tracks.
Repairs related to the incident are ongoing, and the T has warned Red Line passengers to expect delays until the work is done. On Friday, the T said it is hoping signal restoration between Broadway and JFK/UMass stops will be completed by Aug. 15. That work is expected to result in a five-minute improvement to Red Line trips.
To date, three signal bungalows have been repaired, 21 of 29 damaged signals have been restored, as have 11 of 19 switches, according to the T.
The investigation into the cause of the derailment is ongoing, although officials have ruled out operator error and said the incident “was not caused by anything of a suspicious nor criminal nature.”