This works comes in the aftermath of a deadly accident near the North Wilmington Station
The MBTA has announced that, together with Commuter Rail operator Keolis, it will be taking “additional steps to enhance the protocols for testing the train crossing’s protection system on Middlesex Avenue in Wilmington.” They have stated that they have tested equipment multiple times and are focused on the “human element” of federally mandated railroad crossing testing.
These steps have been taken after a 68 year old woman, Roberta Sausville, died in a deadly crash, on January 21. Her vehicle was hit by a commuter rail train on Middlesex Avenue, by the North Wilmington Station. Leaders from the MBTA and Keolis made statements about their efforts to ensure safety.
“I’d like to assure the community that the protection system at the Middlesex Avenue railroad crossing is safe and fully operational,” said MBTA general manager Steve Poftak. “On top of our regular maintenance, inspection, and testing procedures, additional rules and instructions for Commuter Rail personnel have been introduced to provide another layer of safety-related enhancements.”
“Safety for our people, our passengers and the communities that depend on commuter rail service is our first priority at Keolis,” said Abdellah Chajai, Keolis Boston CEO and general manager. “We will continue to work with the MBTA and our crews to ensure safe operations at this location and across the network.”
Keolis has retrained its signal maintainers on procedures, and both the MBTA and Keolis have initiated some new measures:
- After the testing is completed, the Commuter Rail dispatchers must request, and receive, affirmation from the signal maintainer that the protection system is enabled.
- Following the step mentioned previously, the signal maintainer must remain on-site until the next train passes to ensure the crossing’s protection system is fully operational and, if necessary, be prepared to manually control the protection system if the system does not perform as expected.
- New signage will be installed on the inside of each signal bungalow door to serve as a visual reminder to Keolis personnel to ensure that the crossing equipment has been fully and properly returned to service.
Shira Laucharoen is a reporter based in Boston. She currently serves as the assistant director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. In the past she has written for Sampan newspaper, The Somerville Times, Scout Magazine, Boston Magazine, and WBUR.