BOSTON (AP) — A six-car train carrying passengers left a suburban Boston transit station without a driver Thursday and went through four stations without stopping, and investigators found that a safety system had been tampered with, the governor said.
None of the approximately 50 passengers was hurt, but the operator suffered a minor injury when he was brushed by the train, apparently as it began to move, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority said.
Inspectors found signs of tampering with a safety device within the train’s cab, a system that is supposed to prevent it from operating without a driver, transit officials said.
“This train was tampered with, and it was tampered with by somebody who knew what they were doing,” Gov. Charlie Baker said during an interview on Boston Herald Radio. Baker later told reporters that there was still a question of “negligence versus something else.”
He called it an “isolated” incident and said he was relieved that no passengers were injured.
The above-ground Red Line train departed Braintree Station — the southernmost stop of the line — shortly after 6 a.m. without an operator and traveled north toward Boston, a statement from the MBTA said. MBTA operations employees disabled the train and brought it to a stop by cutting off power to the electrified third rail, officials said.
Fernanda Daly, who boarded the train at the Braintree station, said nothing seemed unusual about the ride until the train started to slow down and the interior lights went out.
“The people who were on the first car were trying to knock on the door of the conductor and that’s when we discovered that there was nobody there,” said Daly.
Some passengers tried to open doors or break windows to get off the train after it stopped, she added.
Transit personnel boarded the train after it was stopped and drove it to the JFK/UMass stop, where passengers disembarked. The train was taken out of service and brought to a maintenance facility in Boston, where an investigation is under way, according to Joe Pesaturo, spokesman for the transit agency.
Administration officials stressed the investigation was looking into all possibilities.
Passengers are among those being interviewed, the T said.
Kristen Setera, a spokeswoman for the Boston office of the FBI, said in an email that the agency was aware of the incident and was in contact with transit police, but provided no other information.