A Boston Subway Train Just Went Rogue

Hack? Ghost conductor? Whatever it was, something really weird happened on the Red Line.

Imagine you’re on a subway train, near the front, and perhaps you can see into the operator’s cab. It’s empty, but the train starts moving anyway. And it doesn’t stop. It’s a creepy scenario—and it happened early Thursday on Boston’s Red Line train, which left the Braintree Station just after 6 a.m. without an operator.

According to a statement released by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), the train ran without stopping until it was just north of the North Quincy Station, where MBTA staff managed to stop the train by switching off the electrified third rail. 

Frank DePaola, general manager of the MBTA, said the incident was “highly troubling” and “under investigation by Transit Police detectives.”

No one was hurt during the ghost train ride, however Boston’s Fox affiliate spoke with a passenger who said “that she went into the booth where the conductor sits and saw something tied around the control panel. The passenger said the train went through several stations without stopping and that the lights went out.”

The same woman indicated there were more than 20 people on the train, and they were told that the conductor had been taken to the hospital.

Boston’s ABC affiliate reported late Thursday morning that a source told one of their reporters that the operator had left the train at Braintree Station to check on an issue. The train struck the operator and continued on its way.

In its release, the MBTA said its investigators were examining whether “a safety device within the train’s cab may have been tampered with.”

Boston’s subway system has been plagued with problems, such as multiple major issues during the severe winter of 2014-2015, when there were third rail failures, overwhelmed snow plows and whole branches of the system at a standstill. Recently, two people were struck and killed by trains in separateincidents

Whatever’s going on with Boston’s rail transit system may not actually involve remote hacking or vengeful spirits, but it’s starting to look bad enough to prompt commuters to actually risk driving their own cars in Boston, which may be the most terrifying thing of all. 

Photos by Boston Globe / Getty