9 taken to hospital after California train problem

AP News
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Posted: Dec 04, 2013 2:23 PM

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Authorities say at least nine people were taken to the hospital following a brake problem that stranded hundreds of passengers onboard a San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit train.

Oakland Fire Battalion Chief Melinda Drayton said the nine were among 11 passengers who were treated after Wednesday morning's problem on the train. The extent of their injuries was not clear, but Drayton said many of the passengers complained of respiratory issues caused by brake dust. One passenger was found in a semiconscious state, and another suffered an asthma attack.

BART officials say a brake became engaged on a San Francisco-bound train in the Berkeley Hills between the Orinda and Rockridge stations shortly after 8 a.m.

A technician was able to release the broken brake, and the disabled train was able to go to the Rockridge station in Oakland shortly after 9:30 a.m.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit train stopped in a tunnel after a brake problem Wednesday morning, shutting down one of the agency's main lines and stranding hundreds of passengers, officials said.

The San Francisco-bound train stopped around 8:15 a.m. in the Berkeley hills between the Orinda and Rockridge stations when a brake became engaged, BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost told Oakland-based KTVU-TV.

The train emitted white smoke, and some people felt sick, she said.

At least two passengers experienced medical emergencies, including one who suffered an asthma attack, Luna Salaver, another BART spokeswoman, said.

News outlets reported that nearly a dozen passengers were treated for smoke inhalation.

A technician was able to release the broken brake around 9:30 a.m., and the disabled train moved on its own power to the Rockridge station in Oakland, where the 600 to 700 passengers on board were evacuated, according to Salaver.

The incident created significant delays on the line, as two stations were shut down.

BART has been plagued by problems in recent months, including two strikes.

Last month, a computer glitch shut down transit service during the Friday morning commute. The glitch came as BART stripped a key provision from a contract deal with its workers, creating more labor problems for the agency.

In October, two BART workers were killed by a train operated by an employee undergoing training. The deaths occurred during BART's second transit strike in four months. The strikes shut down service and snarled traffic in the region.

"We very much apologize for the ongoing service problems that our passengers have been experiencing this month and this entire year," Trost told KTVU-TV.