Off Track: MBTA Working to Reduce Green Line Derailments - NECN


The latest news from around the state

Off Track: MBTA Working to Reduce Green Line Derailments

But is enough being done?



    A recent audit of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority revealed that the Green Line had the most derailments of any light rail line in the entire country last year. necn’s Investigates took an engineer to the tracks to get a closer look at the problem. (Published Monday, Nov. 14, 2016)

    Imagine your daily commute disrupted by your train going off the tracks. Nowhere did this happen more last year than the MBTA's Green Line.

    What's even more troubling is the state's investigation into the MBTA. necn's Natasha Verma took an engineer to the tracks to get a first-hand look at the problem.

    "The tracks are old, the system's old. It just needs to be maintained more frequently," engineer Jim Lambrechts said.

    But some of that wear and tear is not visible to the naked eye, and only a small amount of damage to the tracks can lead to big problems.

    Seven trains derailed on the MBTA's Green Line in 2015. And there have been five derailments so far this year, including one in October that remains under investigation.

    This series of derailments forced the state to investigate the MBTA, and what it found was troubling. The MBTA was not adequately maintaining the tracks or the wheels on the trains that were derailing.

    "We were seeing an abnormal amount of wheel wear, and that is true," said Jeff Gonneville, the MBTA's chief operating officer.

    The MBTA admits the worn out tracks in turn damaged the wheels. Part of the fault was the way inspections were conducted every 90 days.

    "In the past, when we did these inspections, our technicians would have a gauge that they'd place on the wheels and they would just make a determination of whether it was good or not good," Gonneville said.

    Now, the MBTA has engineers take a digital snapshot of each and every wheel on the Green Line, creating a complete profile using a laptop. On top of that, the MBTA is replacing and grinding down tracks, which hasn't been done in over a decade.

    Still, some are concerned that's not enough of an overhaul.

    "They're only closed from 1 in the morning until 5," said Lambrechts, the engineer. "That's a short amount of time to get in and do major maintenance."

    Get the latest from necn anywhere, anytime

    • Download the App

      Available for IOS and Android