Congressman calls for change at MBTA after Boston train fire

Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass. (John Locher/AP)
Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass. (John Locher/AP)

A Massachusetts congressman is calling for changes in the way the Boston-area public transit system operates after a fire on a train prompted one passenger to jump into a river and others to scramble out of windows.

No one was hurt Thursday morning when the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s inbound Orange Line train caught fire while on a bridge crossing the Mystic River just north of Boston on approach to the Assembly station in Somerville. The fire appears to have been caused by a metal panel on the train’s base that came loose and touched the electrified third rail, the system’s general manager said.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton told WCVB-TV on Friday that “it's a total embarrassment and “we've got to change it.” Moulton, a member of the House transportation committee said he doesn't want the federal government to have to take over.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker said he has overseen billions of dollars invested into the system, and there's more that needs to be done.

The fire is the latest in a string of dangerous problems with the troubled system.

The Federal Transit Administration launched a review of the subway system in April following several accidents in the past year that led to injuries or death. The federal agency last month issued a series of directives to immediately address “longstanding issues” with the system’s “overall safety program and safety culture.”

The 43-year-old train car that caught fire Thursday had been inspected less than a month ago, which included an inspection of the panel that came loose, according to the MBTA. After the fire, the same panel on every other in-service Orange Line car was inspected, and no issues were found, the agency said.

The investigation is ongoing.



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