An MBTA Commuter Rail Train Was Damaged, But Picked Up Riders Anyway

Keolis put a train back in service after an unreported collision.

An commuter rail train had been damaged in a South Station collision, but went on to pick up riders anyway—and neither the public nor the MBTA itself knew anything about it.

That’s what the Globe is reporting today as new details emerge about an apparent mishap on the Keolis-operated rail system that delayed passengers at rush hour earlier this month and may have put others in danger.

The T’s oversight board first learned about the incident at its meeting on Monday, when officials told board members that a passenger-less commuter rail train bumped into a post at South Station on November 4 when it failed to stop quickly enough at the end of the line. The collision originally went unreported to MBTA officials, and now it’s under investigation.

What board members didn’t know, until the Globe dug it up, was that passengers had actually ridden on that train after the accident. Officials now say made it four post-crash stops on a trip from Worcester to Boston before a conductor had to make passengers get off (a damaged plow was making strange noises and the train had to be pulled out of service as a safety precaution).

MBTA Chief Safety Officer Ronald Nickle, according to the State House News Service, says there was “definitely a failure on the part of the crew not only (to) operate the train in the manner that it was supposed to be operated within that area, but also that they failed to report the incident after it occurred.”

As for the low-speed crash at South Station that damaged the train’s plow, Nickle says the incident could have ended badly, as it did in September when a commuter rail train in New Jersey slammed into a Hoboken train station, killing one person and injuring scores more. Similar tragedy could have ensued in Boston had the train been going more quickly when it bumped into the post—the Boston train was traveling at about 6 miles per hour, and the barrier it collided with was built to stop trains at speeds of up to 10 miles per hour; the New Jersey train was traveling at 21 miles per hour.

T spokesman Joe Pesaturo tells the Globe that Keolis, the French company that runs the state’s commuter rail trains, “is treating this situation with the level of seriousness it deserves.”