Alex Goldmark is the senior producer of New Tech City, a storytelling show about how technology is changing society. Subscribe here to get New Tech City shows delivered right to your devices. Follow him on Twitter @alexgoldmark.
Does Metro-North Have a Catastrophic Curve?
Two derailments in one year on one stretch of track
Sunday, December 01, 2013 - 12:20 PM
Sunday's deadly Metro-North commuter train crash happened less than 2,000 feet from the the site of another derailment earlier this year along the same stretch of curving riverside track in the southern Bronx.
The Spuyten Duyvil section of track is considered a "slow zone" by the Metropolitan Transit Agency because of the tight curves, two of which come in quick succession flanked by the river on one side and steep rocks on the other.
In July a CSX fright train carrying tons of garbage toppled over in a ravine close to where the rail right-of-way narrows from four tracks to two, which limited re-railing and recovery efforts. You can see a close up of the site of that crash as seen from Google Maps in our previous post. It's just where the large Columbia University 'C' is painted on the rocky cliffs.
Today's crash is about 1,800 feet along the track to the Northwest. It's easy to locate based on this photo from the north which shows orientation in relation to the two bridges and this one from the southeast in relation to the curved stretch of track.
It's two tight turns in close proximity with dangerous landscape flanking the track in both cases. It's too soon to know if excessive speed, operator error, equipment failure or another factor is the cause of this deadly accident, but Spuyten Duyvil is accumulating a menacing track record for 2013.
Most of the track we're talking about was under water during Sandy as WNYC's floodmap shows.