The MBTA has announced publicly that a compromised axle led to a Red Line derailment in June that injured one person and has led to painful commuting delays for hundreds of thousands of subway riders since. They also admitted that unsafe elements of the train that were not caught by safety inspections contributed to the derailment. If you were injured or suffered any other lingering negative effects (such as post-traumatic stress disorder) as a result of the train derailment, contact the Cambridge personal injury experts at Altman & Altman LLP for a free consultation today.
In addition to the axle being of significant age – 27 years old without being replaced – the MBTA missed crucial warning signs that an accessory part nearby the axle was compromised, which they concluded through an investigation played a role in the failure of the axle, and caused the train derailment.
While routine inspections have occurred once every two years to detect the sorts of problems which ultimately led to the failure of this axle – in this case another part on the underside of the train known as a “ground ring”, which regulates electrical flow from the rail and dissipates it throughout the body of the train, had become damaged and allowed electricity to flow through the axle, weakening it to the point where it failed.
Other inspections that occurred during the course of the year did not check either the ground ring or the axle, but once the investigation launched into the cause of the incident, it became clear there was a serious problem with the ground ring that should perhaps have been caught sooner.
A normal, functioning ground ring is sealed from outside elements and should resemble a smooth, clean piece of steel. The ground ring that was examined from the train that derailed was revealed to be badly corroded and damaged through an exposure to outside elements such as grease and dirt, which in turn allowed an electrical flow to arc through the axle while the train was running, weakening it.
Amazingly, just one month before the derailment in May of 2019, the train that would eventually derail was inspected and had two separate parts replaced – but unfortunately nobody caught the damaged ground ring or noticed anything abnormal about the axle. Continue reading