MBTA inspections missed damaged part leading to Red Line derailment

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.

Could this situation be potential grounds for a legal complaint?

The MBTA has owned the cause of the derailment, and thankfully nobody was killed following the train’s derailment. However, hundreds of thousands of commuters have had their lives affected due to the delays that have resulted since, and those who were on the derailed car or train cars in close proximity may be suffering from lingering maladies caused by being in such a high stress, scary accident.

While the MBTA clearly has a schedule of inspections meant to catch such issues before they become dangerous – and they have promised to increase the frequency of ultrasonic inspections, which would be able to detect irregular electronic flows occurring on or around the train, due to the incident – the fact that this malfunctioning part was missed despite inspections occurring cannot be ignored.

The MBTA must be held accountable for any incident in which they fail to keep their riders safe. There are simply too many people who rely on the T for necessary transportation to allow any negligence of any kind in regards to inspections of crucial components of the trains.

If you or a loved one has suffered health consequences or even suffered financially as a result of the Red Line train derailment which occurred early during the morning commute on June 11, contact an experienced personal injury attorney at Altman & Altman LLP right away. We can provide a free consultation to assess your situation and see what we can do to help.

Contact us online or call today at 617-492-3000 or toll-free at 800-481-6199. We are available 24/7.

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