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Abandoned Budd car goes up in flames in Somerville

WFXT reports on the fire in one of the one-time self-propelling commuter-rail cars that has sat unused for decade outside the Somerville commuter-rail maintenance facility. Fire video.

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For some reason, the WCVB link isn't working for me. But the end of the Globe article is gold:

"The cause of the fire remains under investigation, according to Keolis. The Somerville Fire Department referred questions to the MBTA. MBTA Transit Police Superintendent Richard Sullivan referred questions to the MBTA. MBTA Spokesman Joe Pesaturo referred questions to commuter rail operator Keolis."


Above ground and below, overhead lines, just get rid of all of it.

Sounds crazy but there's absolutely no way in hell that switching fully to EV and hybrid busses could possibly be any worse than this god forsaken disaster of a subway system.

Other (much colder) parts of the world somehow find ways to operate functioning trains within their cities but we need to realize our limitations and cut bait. Boston just isn't good at trains.

Cursed I tell ya!

They're full of shoggoths!

A commuter rail train operated and maintained by Keolis catches fire.
Fixed the headline for you.


The train that caight fire has been out of service for over forty years and was never maintained or operated by Keolis. It was removed from service before 1982, was stored at the old B&M shops in Billerica until 2003, andwas towed down to Boston then with some thought that it could be converted into temporary crew quarters during the DNC in 2004. It has been sitting there since. It was actually sold for scrap in the early 1990s but the company that was supposed to do the work walked away from the project when they realised those cars are full of asbestos.


Maybe my memories are lying to me as I age, but I remember seeing that thing when commuting to Boston from Malden back in the nineties if not the eighties.

The Fire Department says talk to the T.
Transit Police Chief Richard Sullivan says talk to the MBTA
The MBTA says talk to Keolis.
The sounds of silence are not a good look for our safe transit system.


Evidently one of the old self-powered (Budd) cars, last used in the 1980s. Not current equipment.


Post rewritten.

that's been sitting in the yard gathering graffiti for at least twenty years?

Familiar to all Orange Line outbound north riders ...

UPDATE: I see from below that it was. No surprise, good riddance, probably some dopers, and all that.


When this fleet of Budd cars were retired in the late 1980s/early 1990s, they were parked in a yard near Alewife station. They got used for many kinds of illicit activities, including drugs, and several of them were burned, one by one, by vandals. After residents and city officials complained loudly enough, they were removed to another location and most were eventually scrapped. It was later announced that the cars contained asbestos, which had been released into the air during the fires.

These were the abandoned Budd cars set on a siding just off the access road to the concrete plant.

The Budd cars, referred to as "Buddliners" were rail diesel cars (RDC), each with their own motor, making them somewhat like a rail bus. In modern times we call these a diesel multi-unit or DMU. They were the work horse for commuter rail operations here and in many major cities.

After their ability to operate under their own power declined, the motors were disconnected and some removed and they were used as regular rail coaches for many years until that phase of their life also ended.

The units with the fire have been on that siding for at least 20 or more years. They were sold for scrap metal decades back but the purchaser never came to remove them while it was still possible (working brakes), or later cut them up on site. Legal technicalities have prevented the MBTA from doing anything with them, themselves.

No... no fences. You can find videos of the cars and interiors (what's left of them) on YouTube. The siding parallels the service road that enters the concrete business and those cars have been subject to vandalism and even homeless living there. There are also a couple of fright cars there as well.

I would speculate that since these units have been without use and no fuel or any working electricals for decades that a fire of this nature was not spontaneous combustion.

This video is over 10 years old.


There are also a couple of fright cars there as well.

Great - Halloween's coming up soon.

Again, all Orange Line riders that go past the cement plant know these cars.


I didn’t know the part about them being sold to a deadbeat buyer.

For those that want to see a good condition Budd car, there’s one at the end of the minuteman path in Bedford.

DMUs on the Lowell line would have been a fraction of the cost of the GLX and a lot more useful.


Why weren't these things scrapped way back when? Thanks to a lower case anon now we know.

I don't usually approve of lower case anons but this one was very helpful unlike some of the others who only seem to exist to troll.

Makes sense... however a couple of problems to that plan.

DMU units, specifically the powered unit with the motor is deemed to be both a locomotive and coach at the same time, but has to be cycled out for service and inspection on a cycle to serve both criteria. So a DMU power unit is out of service more often than its counterparts. This requires the rail company to purchase additional units as spares just to have them available to fill in the need when the others are out for maintenance and inspection.

Part of this includes inspections by federal authorities and they are not always resident here, so after the MBTA does their work, they have to side the unit to wait for federal inspectors to arrive to sign off. At any point in time there could be multiple coaches and locomotives on sidings just waiting for federal sign off.

There are no DMU manufacturers in the USA anymore. The last one, Colorado Railcar went out of business many years ago and its assets absorbed by another rail company. If any DMU companies are here, they are not local. Under the Buy America Act final assembly has to be done in the USA so that adds to the cost of any rail manufacturer that may be making DMU units, and under current circumstances none of them want to do that. Their market is now in Europe for the most part.

Having a DMU fleet would also require a place to park them at night and as it is the MBTA is out of real estate to park them. Many of the train sets are already being positioned at layover yards at Pawtucket, Needham, and Readville on the south side, Kingston and Greenbush on those lines, and Rockport on the north side.

Another factor is fuel consumption. It's not as great as one might expect.

Ideally once all is electrified we can get electric multi-units (EMU... not the bird) like you find at NJT or Metro North.

One thing not considered is Gen-Set (generator set) locomotives. The MBTA only has 2 of these in maintenance and shop movement operations. They were early models but the technology has improved greatly and many European railroads are using them.

These locomotives use 2-4 small diesel engines for motive power. While at idle at a station only one engine works. As the train powers up additional engines cut in to provide the current for the truck motors. Once the train is up to speed, those engines that are not needed to maintain the speed shut off or cut back to an idle state. Locomotives like these are replacing passenger locomotives where electrification has yet to be installed throughout Europe. They are deemed a stop-gap until everything is electrified.

If I have an abandoned building on my property, it's my responsibility. Even if I can produce paperwork that says I sold it as scrap but the buyer never came to collect, it's still my responsibility.

Given all the other fires at the MBTA (lol!), I'm sure the discarded rolling stock is at the bottom of the to-do list, but this is still a failure of MBTA management, and a sign of deep rot within the Authority.


Unless you can show an instance when a building was sold, but not the land under it, and the new owner decided not to move it.

No, this is more like an abandoned car at a parking lot.


This will all be a thing of the past when the T is free and run by the Feds.