ORINDA, Calif. (KGO) -- Bart trains got out of the gate on time after a night when an immense crane lifted derailed cars and moved them to the Concord yard and crews repaired track damage.
It was a difficult start to the new year for BART after an eastbound train caught fire and derailed near Orinda at 9 a.m. Monday, traumatizing over 100 riders and delaying thousands of other passengers.
"Now we turn to the phase of what really happened," said BART Director Deborah Allen.
Allen said the transit agency is still interviewing operations staff as they try to put together the pieces.
"There is an investigation pending so lots of things could come out of that. We don't know right now. But what we believe right now is it's not a track issue, it was not a train issue. So those have sort of been ruled out. What we are left with and what most of what we know points to is human error," said Allen.
She said the interlocking device was new, the train car was new, and the track was new. BART said they were unable to operate the interlocking to change tracks remotely and asked the train operator to do it manually. Passengers described the train stopping and moving backward.
"The fiber optic network went down due to some software issues, and that's what created the conditions from the start that the train operator had to manually realign these tracks," said Allen.
It's the fourth BART derailment in the last 15 years, all in the East Bay. The incident is a setback for BART as the agency needs to build ridership in 2024 to secure funding after declines due to safety issues and the pandemic.
"At least we were able to open for business this morning on time and providing reliable service today. And that's what we need to do moving forward. We can't really have too many of these types of incidents and expect the public to trust us," said BART spokesperson Jim Allison.
If human error is to blame there will be changes.
"It certainly will involve some new training and new protocols," said Allen. "I am really hoping we get something out to the public and say this is what happened and we are very sorry to the people impacted by this."
Allen says she hopes they have answers as to the cause of the derailment in a week.
The California Public Utilities Commission was on site Monday and is also conducting a separate investigation.
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