On Tuesday, January 9, 2007, at 1:38 p.m., southbound Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority passenger train 322 operated by Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad struck a track maintenance vehicle that was on the track near Woburn, Massachusetts. Passenger train 322 consisted of six passenger cars, including a lead control car, and a locomotive pushing from the rear. The track maintenance vehicle was thrown forward about 210 feet; the train did not derail. Of the six maintenance-of-way employees working on or near the track maintenance vehicle, two were killed, and two were seriously injured. Emergency responders treated and released 10 passengers at the accident scene.
As a result of the accident, 160 feet of rail, 80 crossties, and 100 tons of ballast had to be replaced. The cost, including labor, was $15,841. The accident damaged the lead control car and undercarriage of the train. Repairing the train cost an estimated $450,000. The track maintenance vehicle was destroyed; replacing it cost $95,000. Total estimated property damage was $560,841.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the January 9, 2007, collision of train 322 with a track maintenance vehicle near Woburn, Massachusetts, was the failure of the train dispatcher to maintain blocking that provided signal protection for the track segment occupied by the maintenance-of-way work crew, and the failure of the work crew to apply a shunting device that would have provided redundant signal protection for their track segment. Contributing to the accident was Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad’s failure to ensure that maintenance-of-way work crews applied shunting devices as required.
As a result of its investigation of the accident, the National Transportation Safety Board identified the following safety issues:
•Train dispatcher procedures for blocking track segments to protect maintenance-of-way work crews working on the track
•Maintenance-of-way work crews shunting signaled track to protect themselves while working on the track
•Alcohol and drug use by maintenance-of-way employees in the railroad industry