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Federal Transit Administration orders ‘immediate safety standdown’ at MBTA

This shutdown comes after a lengthy investigation by the FTA, multiple runaway train incidents, and a fatality in early April.

A man waits for the Red Line to arrive at Downtown Crossing on June 20, 2022. Carlin Stiehl/The Boston Globe

The Federal Transit Administration has ordered “an immediate safety standdown” at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority following another runaway train incident.

This standdown will require safety briefings for all workers who operate or secure out-of-service trains at the MBTA’s railyard, according to a July 28 letter from FTA chief safety officer Joe DeLorenzo, according to The Boston Globe.

“FTA is requiring a safety standdown to prohibit the MBTA from permitting any such worker who has not attended a safety briefing to move any rail transit vehicles in yards or shops,” the letter said.

These briefings have become necessary because the federal agency has “determined that a combination of unsafe conditions and practices exist such that there is a substantial risk of death or personal injury” according to the letter.

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Briefings will include reviewing and discussing the facts of three recent runaway train incidents, including the latest at the Braintree Station on the Red Line Monday, and retraining on MBTA procedures. Each training will take 15 minutes and will be done on a rolling basis according to MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesaturo.

The rolling nature of the training will allow the MBTA to “maintain service at existing levels with little disruption” Pesaturo wrote in an email to the Globe.

This directive, not the first of its kind from the FTA, comes after a lengthy safety investigation into the MBTA following the April 10 death of a passenger whose arm became stuck in the doors of a train on the Red Line. The first directive came on June 15, telling the MBTA to address four areas of safety issues including addressing unintended and uncontrolled train movements in maintenance facilities and rail yards.

One Twitter user described the grim outlook of MBTA riders on July 22 when he wrote “another day of ‘signal delays’ on the MBTA but hey at least nothing’s on fire today”

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