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Could The MBTA Green Line Crash Have Been Avoided?

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BOSTON (CBS) – Following two previous crashes in 2008 and 2009 in which one person died The National Transportation Safety Board made specific recommendations. But because of cost those safety improvements are still not in place.

It was May 2008 when the driver of a green line trolley fell asleep. The operator was killed when the packed trolley slammed into the rear end and of another trolley stopped at a red light in Newton. One passenger was seriously injured.

The damage was $8 million.

A year later it happened again at the Government Center T stop. The driver of a green line trolley was texting on his cell phone when he slammed into a trolley stopped in the tunnel.

This time 68 people were hurt. The damage was $10 million.

In both crashes The National Transportation Safety Board reached the same conclusion that a contributing cause was the “lack of a positive train control system.”

That high-tech signal system would have applied the brakes.

The positive train control system is designed to aid in four specific safety areas. Avoid train to train collisions like what happened Thursday, prevent derailments caused by high speed, keep trains from traveling on the wrong track when a switch is left in the wrong position and protecting work crews and their equipment.

In 2008 congress passed a law requiring them on all trains but gave states until 2015. In statement, the MBTA said:

“It is too soon to speculate whether signal upgrades we are studying would have prevented this occurrence. We are well aware of the need to bring positive train control technology to the green line and we remain committed to that goal.”

The MBTA says the system will cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Nonetheless, the secretary of transportation says he will brief the MBTA board again next week on these much needed safety upgrades.

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