MBTA and Keolis reinforce security at Wilmington Crossing

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Marybeth Luczak, Editor-in-Chief

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and its commuter train operator Keolis have taken additional steps to improve safety at a highway/railway crossing in Wilmington, Massachusetts, following an accident on 21 January.

A 68-year-old Wilmington woman was killed when her car collided with an MBTA commuter train at the Middlesex Avenue intersection near the North Wilmington station, according to WCVB 5, an ABC affiliate in Boston. MBTA chief executive Steve Poftak said a Keolis signaling manager was “carrying out regular testing of the crossing’s safety system less than an hour before the collision”, the TV station reported. “According to Poftak, the MBTA’s preliminary conclusion was that the security system did not return to normal operating mode after testing. This failure caused the train crossing barriers to fail to descend in a timely manner as the train approached Middlesex Avenue.

Focus on the human element

“With multiple tests confirming that all elements of the crossing infrastructure have continued to function as intended, MBTA and Keolis are focusing on the human element of federally mandated crossing testing,” the statement said. transit agency on February 22.

“I would like to assure the community that the Middlesex Avenue crossing protection system is safe and fully operational,” Poftak said. “In addition to our regular maintenance, inspection and testing procedures, additional rules and instructions for commuter train staff have been introduced to provide another layer of safety-related improvements.”

MBTA and Keolis have initiated the following measures:
• “Once testing is complete, commuter train dispatchers must request and receive affirmation from the signal manager that the protection system is activated.
• “Following the step mentioned above, the signal maintainer must remain on site until the next train passes to ensure that the level crossing protection system is fully operational and, if necessary, be prepared to manually control the protection system if the system does not operate as expected.
• “New signage will be installed inside each signage bungalow door to visually remind Keolis staff to ensure crossing equipment has been fully and correctly returned to service.”

According to MBTA, Keolis has already trained all of its signal maintainers on the procedures to follow before, during and after the regular testing process of the level crossing protection system.

“The safety of our employees, our passengers and the communities that depend on commuter rail service is our first priority at Keolis,” said Abdellah Chajai, CEO and General Manager of Keolis Boston. “We will continue to work with the MBTA and our teams to ensure safe operations at this location and throughout the network.”

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