BOSTON — A metal panel fell off a train entering a Boston subway station and apparently struck a wall and then the electrified third rail, filling the station with smoke and forcing the evacuation of two trains, transit officials said Wednesday.
The State Street station on the Orange Line was evacuated Tuesday night when the 12 foot by 1 foot metal panel became dislodged, said Jeffrey Gonneville, chief operating officer for the regional transit system.
The train became disabled after running over the panel, Gonnevile said. After passengers left the train in an "orderly fashion," he said, a second train entered the station and ran over the panel while it was still on the tracks, disabling that train and causing more smoke to appear.
"Several emergency alarms were pulled by passengers onboard who became rightfully concerned," Gonneville said in a statement. "Because (the train) was not fully to the platform the doors were automatically in the lock position so some passengers began to disembark by using doors at the end of some of the train cars and by kicking out windows and crawling out of the train."
There were no reports of injuries on either of the six-car trains, he said.
MBTA officials said they believed the panel fell off because fixtures that keep it fastened to the side of the car had deteriorated.
Transit officials ordered overnight inspections of all 120 Orange Line trains. Joe Pesaturo, an MBTA spokesman, said Wednesday the inspections turned up no major issues but exterior panels on 13 trains were reinforced as a precaution.
The Orange Line trains are among the oldest in the MBTA fleet, having gone into service in 1978 and 1979. They are slated for replacement in 2018.
Inspections of the exterior panels will now become part of regularly scheduled maintenance on the trains until they are replaced, Pesaturo said.
The transit system, which was crippled by weather-related breakdowns during record snowstorms last winter, has an estimated $7.3 billion repair backlog and is considering fare hikes to help erase a projected $242 million operating deficit.