A six-car train with 50 passengers left without its driver and went through four Boston stations before crews were able to stop it. None of the passengers were hurt. Photo by Natalia Bratslavsky/Shutterstock.
BOSTON, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- A six-car train ran without a driver through four Boston transit stations on Thursday without stopping. None of the approximately 50 passengers were hurt, officials said.
The driver of the train stepped off to perform a procedure at Braintree Station that would allow the train to continue if there were a signal problem, and might have failed to secure the brake before leaving the train, said Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack. An investigation is focused on the driver.
"We failed our passengers today," Pollack said. The incident "represents an unacceptable breach of our responsibility to keep our riders safe."
The investigation will try to answer how the driver is responsible, Pollack said. Though none of the passengers were hurt, the driver, 51-year-old David Vazquez, did receive a minor injury when he was bumped by the train as it began to leave Braintree Station. Vazquez was transported to South Shore Hospital.
A 25-year veteran with the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, Vazquez has been placed on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation.
Vazquez was at first unable to start the train at the station, Pollack said. After receiving clearance to put the 6:08 a.m. inbound train into bypass mode, he then stepped off, but the train left before he could get back on board.
A full-service brake and hand brake must be on before a train can go into bypass mode, Pollack said. It is not known if the driver had set both before leaving the train.
The train was eventually stopped just past North Quincy Station when crews were able to cut power to the third rail.
An inspection of the train found some of the safety controls had been tampered with by someone with knowledge of the train, but Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said "The discussion that's going to take place on our end is negligence versus something else."
Previous unmanned, out of control trains have wrought havoc.
In Sept. 2013, an unmanned train left a Chicago rail yard and crashed into a train with passengers, injuring 34 people.
And in February, a driver-less train left a Sacramento, Calif. rail yard when a mechanic stepped off while working on the train, which soon derailed, causing $70,000 in property damage. Neither of the runaway trains were carrying passengers.