Puzzle Revealed: MBTA at South Station.

The other day I posted:

An Unusual Scene: MBTA at South Station, Boston December 2017.


With a photo similar to the one below.

What makes this ‘unusual’?

On MBTA, the normal operating practice is have push-pull train-sets with the locomotive on outward end of the train. Thus the locomotives should face away from Boston. This has been the standard practice since the 1990s.

In my photo a locomotive is facing South Station, and that is unusual. While not necessarily unheard of, nor ‘rare’, this is not the usual practice.

I’m not an every day visitor to South Station, but this is the first time I recall seeing an MBTA road-locomotive facing the station since the early 1980s.

What isn’t evident from my photo is that there are actually locomotives on BOTH ends of the train. Which is also unusual. The bottom photo shows the same train set at Worcester, and focuses on the outward facing locomotive.

Quite a few Tracking the Light readers guessed my puzzle correctly. One reader asked why the locomotive is facing the station. I’ll be honest, I don’t know why. However, I can guess. Maybe you can too.

Worcester, Massachusetts.

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3 comments on “Puzzle Revealed: MBTA at South Station.

  1. Bill Strassner on said:

    Exactly our situation on NJT, rare but occurred. Hoboken and Atlantic City were stub ended terminals. Hi Doug ! and THX Brian for all…

  2. Most likely reason for a locomotive facing the bumping block end at South Station might be a malfunction or non-conformity on the control car. This could be malfunctioning horn, bell headlight or cab signal equipment, even a broken engineer’s windshield. I have seen this on a few occasions in which he second locomotive was there, but was not required for propulsion.

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