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
As a result of its investigation of the January 9, 2007, collision between southbound Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority passenger train 322 operated by the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad and a track maintenance vehicle near Woburn, Massachusetts, the National Transportation Safety Board makes the following safety recommendations:
To the Federal Railroad Administration:
Advise railroads of the need to examine their train dispatching systems and procedures to ensure that appropriate safety redundancies are in place for establishing protection and preventing undesired removal of protection for roadway workers receiving track occupancy authority. (R-08-05)
Require redundant signal protection, such as shunting, for maintenance-of-way work crews who depend on the train dispatcher to provide signal protection. (R-08-06)
Revise the definition of "covered employee" under 49 Code of Federal Regulations Part 219 for purposes of Congressionally mandated alcohol and controlled substances testing programs to encompass all employees and agents performing safety-sensitive functions, as described in 49 Code of Federal Regulations 209.301 and 209.303. (R-08-07)
To the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division:
Promote the prevention of alcohol and drug abuse by assisting your members in addressing awareness, education, and treatment options. (R-08-08)