7Investigates: Commuter rail train arrives on wrong track, passenger told to pull herself up into open car

ATTLEBORO, MASS. (WHDH) - January 16th was like any other day at the Attleboro commuter rail station for Fatima DoVale. It was, until the train arrived.“I was very shocked,” says Fatima.

Fatima was shocked because the inbound commuter rail train pulled up on the center track.

“I did have to step on to the gravel, on to the plank, and then over the track to get to the train,” says Fatima. “I don’t think it seems safe at all. That’s why I’m speaking out.”

She says she told the conductor, she couldn’t get up there.

“I looked at her and said, well how am I supposed to do this?,” says Fatima. “Because the steps were about hip length for me.”

Fatima and other riders usually step straight from the platform on to the train steps, with no problem.

But in this case, Fatima was stepping up from a gravel ditch, which she says put her about two feet lower than normal.

“I’m a short woman, 4’10” and I tried to you know, put my foot over on to the step but I couldn’t reach,” says Fatima.

She says, “I put my knee, and I held on with my left hand, pulled myself up and held on with the other one, and pulled the other knee up.”

Fatima says the conductor and another passenger had to help her.

“They pushed me on to the train. She {the conductor} was behind me and pushed me on to the train, so I could hold myself up,” says Fatima. “The gentleman grabbed a hold of my shoulders and helped me in the train. I never would have been able to do it.”

As soon as she got on the train, Fatima felt something wasn’t right.

“I felt a little humiliated, to tell you the truth,” says Fatima.

She says there was never an announcement to explain what had happened.

“Luckily I didn’t get hurt. But my thought is, what if there’s a handicapped person, or an older person, what would happen there. Would they have been left behind?,” says Fatima.

The company that runs the trains, Keolis, said no one was available to talk to us on camera.

They did give us a written statement saying “On January 16, our crews were required to board Train 818’s passengers from the center track at Attleboro Station. This is a rare occurrence and we appreciate our Keolis team members providing assistance to passengers.”

Fatima thinks the commuter rail should do better.

“I don’t know what the remedy is but I’m thinking a simple stool, a step stool.”

But Keolis told us they won’t be providing any equipment to help in similar situations:

“Given that this is such a rare operational move, there are no plans by the MBTA to install an additional lift or step, as passengers were able to board and the train arrived on time.”

“The passengers should feel safe. If something as simple as that, there’s not a protocol for, what does that mean? What else isn’t there a protocol for?,” says Fatima.

Keolis didn’t say what caused the train to come in on a different track for Train 818. They did say things like track work or a switch issue could be examples of something that would cause this “rare occurrence.”

Video surveillance shows earlier trains that day arrived on the normal track.

(Copyright (c) 2019 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)