It’s Going to Be Like Halloween on the Commuter Rail But in the Summer

The MBTA is conducting an emergency drill on a Commuter Rail train with over 100 costumed actors.

Actors pretending to be T customers in Halloween costumes will be placed on a Commuter Rail train headed for Salem this Sunday in an attempt to simulate an emergency situation during the height of tourism season that requires a police response along the tracks.

According to officials from the MBTA, the staged exercise is mandated by the Federal Railroad Administration and will enlist the help of over 120 volunteers who have been encouraged to put on Halloween outfits to give the drill an authentic feel. The mock emergency is being conducted in conjunction with MassDOT, Transit Police, and Salem Police and fire officials between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., followed by post-exercise briefings.

The two-hour drill will be “highly visual” as the actors pretend they are caught in an emergency situation while stuck inside an MBTA tunnel in Salem. According to T officials, the drill will give first responders a chance to prepare for treatment of injuries, communications tactics, accident investigation and triage. Salem Police Sergeant Brian Gilligan couldn’t say too much about the mock-emergency practices without compromising the training aspect of it. “It loses all its training value,” he says.

But he did say it is going to mirror a trip to Salem during the Halloween season because that is an unusually busy time when tourists flock the trains to head to the Witch City. “If we are going to conduct a drill, it’s good to have a scenario that you know can kind of test our ability to perform these functions—especially during a peak transportation period where it would be theoretically most difficult. In our opinion, it’s a good scenario to take on,” he says.

During Halloween last year, MBTA ridership to the “Haunted Happenings” was so high, that the transit agency ran extra service to and from Salem to accommodate the large crowds.