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Investigators Seek Clues In Commuter Collision

November 13, 1987

BOSTON (AP) _ State and federal investigators said they had few clues in the cause of a commuter-train collision that injured more than 100 people at rush hour.

Authorities refused to speculate on the cause of Thursday’s crash, which occurred about 8 a.m. at Back Bay station when an arriving seven-car train plowed into a seven-car train discharging passengers onto the platform.

With repairs beginning and some rail service routed past the station today, investigators began examining the track and equipment and interviewing passengers and crew members.

″No factors are apparent to us yet,″ said Clifford D. Black, a spokesman for Amtrak, which has operated the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority- owned commuter lines since January.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Railroad Administration, as well as Amtrak, the MBTA and state Department of Public Utilities are investigating.

Both train engineers and the five conductors were tested for drugs and alcohol, standard procedure in railroad investigations. Officials said they did not know when the results would be available.

″Right now it seems that everything was working,″ an unidentified Amtrak source told today’s Boston Herald. ″The signal-relay cases have been have been checked, and they’re all intact, and the train’s braking system is still working.″

Authorities apparently do not believe Thursday’s record snowstorm, which dumped about a foot of wet snow on the city, was directly involved in the collision at the underground station, said MBTA spokesman Peter Dimond.

However, he said investigators would check whether disruptions caused by the weather confused dispatchers. Both trains were late when the collision occurred.

″People in the aisles fell like dominoes,″ said James Blanchard, 21, of Attleboro, who was standing in the second train at the time of the crash.

He said he heard people screaming and saw a doctor giving emergency treatment to a woman who was tossed between the cars.

City hospitals treated 68 people, and 40 more sought medical attention at the scene.

Six people were reported to have serious injuries, mainly broken bones, and five were hospitalized Thursday night in stable and good condition, said Boston City Hospital administrator Mark Douville.

MBTA spokesman Vicente Carbona said about 400 of the estimated 500 passengers had already left the first train when it was struck. The remaining passengers were in the first four cars of the train, which were protected in part by three empty cars and an engine at the train’s rear, he said.

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