OAKLAND, Calif. – A San Francisco Bay Area commuter train returning from routine maintenance struck and killed two workers who were inspecting the tracks Saturday afternoon – an accident that comes amid a strike that has shut the Bay Area Rapid Transit system down to riders for the past few days.
BART officials said in a statement that the manager who was operating the train was an “experienced operator,” and the four-car train was being run in automatic mode under computer control at the time of the accident.
Officials from the unions representing BART’s train operators and some of the system’s other workers have warned of the danger that could come with allowing managers to operate trains. The unions have been on strike since Thursday.
One system employee and one contractor were killed in the accident in the East Bay city of Walnut Creek shortly before 2 p.m. The train had been at a yard where workers had been cleaning off graffiti, BART officials said.
The two workers killed were performing track inspections about a mile from the Walnut Creek station in an area some 25 miles northeast of San Francisco, BART said. They were responding to a reported dip in the track.
“Both people had extensive experience working around moving trains in both the freight train and the rapid transit industry,” BART said.
The procedures for such maintenance require one employee to inspect the track and the other to serve as a lookout for oncoming traffic, BART officials said. They did not immediately say whether that procedure had been followed.