Rail trespasser strike: Boston University Summer 2016

A new Boston University student 17 years old was struck and killed by a westbound MBTA commuter rail train behind 25 Buick St., in an area where the Mass Pike rides directly over the train tracks. In this area, several active tracks are nestled between pillars holding up the Turnpike and two chain-link fences.

25 Buick St. train tracks Mass Pike
High speed train tracks behind BU FitRec 25 Buick St.–notice large warning signs.

Trains in this area might be traveling on order 70 ft/sec, and given the curvature in the track, an alert person may have only 5 seconds sightline of a rapidly approaching train under ideal conditions.

2005 Boston rail fatalities

overhead view of train tracks north of BU West Campus
‘A’ denotes vicinity of Feb 9, 2005 rail strike fatalities where a pair of BU students trespassing on the rails were fatally struck by an eastbound MBTA commuter rail train. ‘B’ denotes the vicinity of the Sept 6, 2016 BU student fatally struck by a westbound commuter rail train.

The Feb 9, 2005 Boston University student railroad trespasser fatalities were during very foggy conditions, indicated by the 100 foot long red line “A”. The Sept 6, 2016 Boston University student fatality had perhaps a 400 foot sightline, indicated by red line “B”. An uninitiated person such as a student whether having fun or escaping attackers might have less than 5 seconds notice of impending doom given:

  • less than 400ft. sight line
  • noise of Massachusetts Turnpike above
  • number of closely spaced train tracks
  • high speed of trains with frequent passage

Our sympathies to those suffering loss in these tragic deaths and the numerous people killed each year trespassing on rail lines without realizing how fast and silent trains travel on continuous welded rail increasingly present.

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