A commuter rail car separated from its train early Wednesday morning just outside North Station, on the same Newburyport line where a train decoupled a year ago.
Keolis Commuter Services, the private company that operates the rail system for the MBTA, said the train was traveling about 11 miles per hour as it pulled away from the platform when the last car separated from the others just after midnight. Six passengers were onboard the train, though none were in the car that decoupled, Keolis spokesman Tory Mazzola said. The train and the car automatically stopped when they separated, he said.
The T replaced the train to Newburyport with bus service.
Mazzola said initial findings indicate the cause was human error. The investigation will include inspection of the components that link cars, called couplers, across the entire fleet. The two cars that separated have been taken out of service.
“We already have checks in place designed to prevent incidents like this from occurring, and we are re-inspecting all the couplers on all coach cars,” Keolis general manager David Scorey said. “The investigation will include an assessment of how such an event could occur in light of these existing preventive measures as well as ensuring any additional measures necessary are identified and immediately implemented.”
This is the second car separation in 13 months on a Newburyport commuter train. Last September, during the evening rush, two cars split mid-commute much further along the trip, near the Rumney Marsh area.
Keolis officials at the time described the incident as “exceptionally unusual,” and Mazzola said there had been no other train decouplings on the commuter rail until Wednesday morning.
In the September 2017 incident, Keolis and the T determined that the couplers were defective, possibly because of wear and tear.
But that investigation wasn’t smooth, as the T ultimately accused Keolis of failing to provide written reports of the separation and its immediate aftermath. The Federal Railroad Administration also said Keolis improperly handled some of the faulty equipment before an inspection, the Boston Herald reported last winter.Adam Vaccaro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @adamtvaccaro.