A Red Line train derailed at Alewife Station this afternoon, forcing a shutdown of the line between Harvard and Alewife, and it is unclear whether train service will return to normal Wednesday, the MBTA said.
The fourth car of a six-car train went off the track just south of the station at about 4 p.m., said T spokesman Joe Pesaturo. Sixty-five passengers were safely evacuated.
Buses are replacing trains in both directions until the car is put back on the rails and moved, Pesaturo said in an email. He suggested that T riders check mbta.com for information on whether service is back to normal.
A critical independent review of the MBTA, released last month, cited hundreds of millions of dollars in unfunded safety projects that the T has not been able to afford. The report singled out an $80 million unfunded project between Harvard and Alewife stations to replace a system of floating concrete slabs beneath the track as well as to repair leaks. Without those repairs, the Red Line risks derailment, according to internal MBTA documents.
Pesaturo said the investigation into today’s derailment is not related to the track issue, that investigators are focused on the vehicle, not the trackbed. The car involved was one of the newest in the fleet, a 1990 Bombardier.
The T has had several problems in recent days. A Green Line train derailment near Copley Square on Dec. 13 caused no injuries, but led to a service suspension for several hours. A probe later found it was caused by human error. On Monday, removal of a 40-foot wall panel on the Red Line at the Porter Square station, which was in danger of coming loose from water leaks, caused rush-hour delays.
“I think we said it before, it’s the whole challenge of dealing with an aging system,” said Jeffrey Mullan, transportation secretary. “I think that’s part of what we’re dealing with.”
Mullan said passengers should not feel at risk, that crews monitor the subway system constantly. He said the two Red Line problems in two days did not appear related.
Today’s derailment was most likely related to a wheel problem on the fourth car of the train, Mullan said.
“It’s a random mechanical failure on a train, but it’s unrelated to the Porter Square issue from yesterday,” he said.
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