Local

All new Orange Line trains pulled amid MBTA scrutiny

Legislators called for an oversight hearing to learn more about the MBTA's safety issues.

The MBTA'snew Orange Line trains have once again been pulled from service. Jonathan Wiggs/Boston Globe Staff

As Massachusetts legislators prepare for a rare oversight hearing to learn more about the MBTA’s myriad problems, the agency said Tuesday that it has pulled all of its new Orange Line trains from service. This move was precipitated by a battery failure in one car earlier this week, The Boston Globe reported

MBTA spokeswoman Lisa Battiston told the Globe that the train experiencing battery issues was not in service at the time.

The MBTA has been plagued by problems in recent years, mostly concerning safety. These issues prompted a review of the T’s subway system by federal officials, who found wide-ranging issues including dispatchers working 20-hour shifts and other employees working with expired safety certifications. Due to these findings, the T began running fewer trains on weekdays, citing a lack of dispatchers. 

Advertisement:

On Tuesday, legislators decided to take more direct action. Senate President Karen E. Spilka and House Speaker Ronald Mariano announced that the transportation committee will look to hold a hearing with the goal of better understanding the agency’s shortcomings and “help restore public confidence.”

Spilka and Mariano pointed toward Gov. Charlie Baker, who they said has had control of the T since 2015. They said Baker’s administration has had the responsibility of managing the agency and arranging adequate maintenance work since Baker requested control. 

Also on Tuesday, lawmakers moved to allocate hundreds of millions to address the safety concerns with the T raised by the Federal Transit Administration’s inspection, the Globe reported. 

The FTA is expected to release a full safety management inspection report in August, but in the meantime, it issued a few “special directives” for the MBTA to complete immediately. This includes increasing staffing at its operations control center, improving general safety operating procedures, and addressing delayed critical track maintenance and safety recertifications for employees, the Globe reported. 

The FTA has only conducted a local safety inspection like this once before. 

FTA associate administrator Paul Kincaid said the MBTA was issued these directives as a “result of continuous safety violations and a failure to take urgent corrective actions.”

Advertisement:

While the MBTA investigates the battery issues seen in new Orange Line trains, officials have also decided to keep new Red Line cars out of service. The agency is still expecting hundreds of new Red and Orange Line trains from a Chinese company first contracted in 2014, the Globe reported. 

This is not the first time the new Orange Line trains have been pulled from service. Last month, T workers found that brake bolts had been improperly installed on eight cars. The problem was first found on one Orange Line car when it became disabled at Wellington Station. The T pulled all new Orange Line trains for inspection, and found the problem on seven additional cars. 

Last March, the new Orange Line trains were pulled after one derailed at Wellington Station. They were returned to service last August. 

Other MBTA lines have also had safety problems. Earlier this month, two Green Line trains collided near Government Center. MBTA officials said one train was traveling 9 miles per hour at the time of the crash, just over the speed limit of 7 miles per hour. Multiple train operators were hospitalized as a result of the crash. 

But the most tragic MBTA-related incident this year occurred in April, when 39-year-old Robinson Lalin was dragged to death after his arm got caught in a Red Line door. The Globe reported that Lalin stepped off the train at Broadway station before going back into the car. His arm became trapped between the closing doors, and Lalin was dragged 100 feet while still on the platform. He briefly ran alongside the train, but was found dead about 75 feet into the tunnel.

Conversation

This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com