Deadly train derailment is latest woe for Metro-North

The commuter line has had a dismal year with several accidents and a major power outage

Topics: From the Wires, nyc, New York, Metro North, train, Derail,

Sunday’s crash in the Bronx is the second passenger train derailment in six months for the rail service and presents Metro-North with another problem in what has been a year plagued by safety issues.

— On Sept. 25, a feeder cable in suburban Mount Vernon, N.Y., failed, knocking out power for 12 days to Metro-North’s New Haven line, which carries 132,000 commuters daily.

— On July 18, 10 freight train cars hauling garbage derailed in New York City, and service was suspended.

— On May 28, track foreman Robert Luden was struck and killed by a passenger train in West Haven, Conn. The National Transportation Safety Board says he had requested a track section be taken out of service for maintenance, and the section was placed back in service too soon by a student traffic controller who didn’t have the required approval.

— On May 17, an eastbound train derailed in Bridgeport, Conn., and was struck by a westbound train. The accident injured 73 passengers, two engineers and a conductor.

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This month, Metro-North’s chief engineer, Robert Puciloski, told members of the National Transportation Safety Board investigating the May derailment and Luden’s death that the railroad is “behind in several areas,” including a five-year schedule of cyclical maintenance that had not been conducted in the area of the Bridgeport derailment since 2005.

The NTSB issued an urgent recommendation to Metro-North that it use “redundant protection” such as a procedure known as “shunting” in which crews attach a device to the rail in a work zone alerting the dispatcher to inform approaching trains to stop.

The September disruption resulted in significant increases in highway traffic in Connecticut along the already busy Interstate 95 and Merritt Parkway, cost Connecticut’s economy $62 million and prompted criticism by officials of Con Edison, the New York utility that operates the failed cable.

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