BART collision at Oakland station

February 3, 2009 10:38:35 PM PST
On Tuesday afternoon around 3:00 p.m., one BART train sideswiped another train, injuring more than a dozen people. One was coming into the 12th Street station from Lake Merritt, the other from West Oakland when it happened.

The BART 12th Street station was open on Tuesday night, but there were 15 minute delays for passengers headed to Richmond and Pittsburg Bay Point.

About 300 passengers felt the collision when the Richmond-bound train and the Pittsburg/Bay Point-bound train merged on to the same track at the exact same time.

"I was going from Oakland to Richmond to go to work and we hear a little rumble, a little metal banging... bam, bam, bam... and then it stopped, that was about it. It wasn't real exciting, but it was a little rough," said passenger Victor Johnson.

"They were in a position where they were forced up on the other, wedging one upon another. Right now you've got one suspended on the other," said Captain Joe Torres earlier in the day.

Emergency crews set up a triage center and examined passengers as they were evacuated. The Oakland Fire Department says 13 passengers were transported to local hospitals, but there were no major injuries.

"They general go very slowly through the station because of the face this is a major intersection, this probably explains why we didn't have any serious injuries," said BART Spokesman Linton Johnson.

Coming into the 12th Street BART station, in Oakland, is an area known as the "Y" where five train tracks intersect underground. BART says the trains have to decelerate below 30 mph as they enter the station.

"In this case we had one train on automatic, meaning the computers were controlling it. And then another train, which was coming from west Oakland, that train was in manual mode so a person was controlling it. So we'll have to figure out what happened in the course of our investigation," said BART spokesperson Linton Johnson.

The investigation will try to find out if there if the cause of this accident was due to machine or human error. BART says there is an operations control center where controllers can see these trains in real-time.

BART also says they probably wouldn't be able to figure out the cause until later. Meanwhile, the delays will continue until the BART can set the trains back on the tracks and move them out. That work will continue through the night.