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Derailment

Transportation Nation

Engineer in Fatal Metro-North Derailment Had Undiagnosed Sleep Disorder

Monday, April 07, 2014

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the engineer at the controls of the Metro-North train that derailed in the Bronx last year had undiagnosed "severe obstructive sleep apnea."

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WNYC News

Two Million Americans "Nod" Behind the Wheel Every Week

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Was highway hypnosis behind Sunday's deadly derailment of a MetroNorth commuter train?

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Was the Metro-North Engineer Asleep?

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

New information is surfacing about the deadly Metro-North derailment in the Bronx Sunday. DNAinfo columnist and criminal justice editor Murray Weiss, is reporting that sources say that veteran engineer, William Rockefeller, dozed off. The train was travelling at 82 m.p.h. in a 30 m.p.h. zone and according to Weiss's reporting, "Rockefeller was jolted from his sleep and hit the brake, but not in time."

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Transportation Nation

Railroads Face Deadline to Install Technology to Prevent Crashes

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

WAMU

The deadly derailment of a Metro-North commuter train in New York Sunday may be adding a sense of urgency to the efforts of freight and passengers railroads to adopt technology that could prevent similar accidents.

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Transportation Nation

Feds: Train Was Going 82 in a 30-MPH Zone

Monday, December 02, 2013

UPDATED: Federal investigators say the Metro North commuter train that derailed Sunday was going 82 mph in a 30 mph zone as it rounded a precipitous curve in the Bronx.

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Transportation Nation

Metro-North Riders: Here's What You Need to Know

Sunday, December 01, 2013

WNYC

In the wake of Sunday's derailment, trains on the Hudson Line won't be running normally. The MTA is advising passengers to telecommute on Monday -- but if that's just not possible, expect delays...and shuttle buses.

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New Jersey News

Fight Over New Jersey Train Derailment Enters Courtroom Phase

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

The fight over a southern New Jersey train derailment and chemical spill last year is heading to the courtroom.

First-responders are filing a lawsuit Wednesday claiming Conrail was negligent in the aftermath of the derailment and chemical spill. They say Conrail was ordering its workers to get away from the site while telling officials that the cloud of vinyl chloride was "not that toxic" and that an evacuation was not needed.

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WNYC News

Metro-North Track Inspected 2 Days Before Derailment, Official Says

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

An official at the Federal Railroad Administration says the agency inspected the area where a commuter train derailed and collided with another in Connecticut last week just two days before the accident.

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Transportation Nation

Northeast Corridor To Regain Transit Lifeline This Afternoon

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

WNYC

Riders on Metro-North's New Haven Line will regain limited service to Connecticut with the 3:07 pm train out of Grand Central Terminal. Hourly service into New York City will resume with the 4:23 train out of New Haven.

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Transportation Nation

Lack Of Investment By CT Makes It Harder To Recover From Derailment

Monday, May 20, 2013

WNYC

The state of Connecticut has been scrambling for a decade to make up for years of failing to invest in Metro-North Railroad. That's part of why the railroad has been finding it so hard to get service up and running on the New Haven Line after Friday's derailment.

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Transportation Nation

Video: Chewed Up Tracks At Derailment Site

Monday, May 20, 2013

WNYC

Two thousand feet of chewed up track and bent rails is a lot.  This MTA video shows the magnitude of the job ahead at the place where two trains collided Friday. Purposefully so, so you don't get too mad while it takes a while to get Metro-North service fully up and running. Officials say that could take well into the week.

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Transportation Nation

Train Collision in Connecticut Injures 72, Worst in Decades

Saturday, May 18, 2013

WNYC

Two Metro-North trains collided near Bridgeport, Connecticut, Friday during the height of the evening rush hour, injuring some 72 passengers, 3 critically. Train service to New Haven is suspended at least through the weekend, and Amtrak is suspending all Northeast Corridor between New York and New Haven indefinitely.

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Transportation Nation

DC Metro: We Need Rail That Can Handle Hotter Temperatures

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Metro board discusses what caused the July 3 track derailment and train evacuation incident in College Park, Md. (photo by Markette Smith/WAMU)

(Markette Smith -- Washington, DC, WAMU) More details have emerged about the July 3 train car derailment that happened during rush hour near West Hyattsville, Md.

Metro engineers inspected the tracks a day before the derailment, but say they found no warning signs. The following day, a portion of the railing buckled from the pressure of prolonged 100-degree weather. This "heat kink" caused a six-car Green line train to jump the tracks.

Now, Metro officials say the only way to prevent that from happening again is to change the way they install railing system-wide.

Dave Kubecik, Deputy General Manager of Metro Operations, says the likelihood of a track buckling increases when temperatures climb higher than 85 degrees. So now, they're trying new methods of installing rail that can withstand greater exposures to heat.

"Knowing that it's subjected to an environment of 95 and 100 degrees, you're going to have much more movement and energy that's going to have to be released or contracted," says Kubecik. "So by adopting a standard of 95 degrees neutral, basically that means that that infrastructure is designed to take more heat and it minimizes its movement."

This is the second incident of a Metro rail buckling under extreme heat this year.

The incident also prompted the institution of a new safety rule. After the train jumped the tracks, the six-car Green Line train momentarily lost power. The train operator had did not have a cell phone and had to walk to a communications outlet to alert the rail system of what happened.

As a result of the incident, Metro has instated a 5-minute rule. So now, in the case of a communications failure, if managers at headquarters do not hear from a train operator in the field within 5 minutes, then they will automatically send emergency responders.

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Transportation Nation

NYC Subway Riders' Worry: Service Slipping Back To The Bad Old Days

Monday, November 07, 2011

(New York, NY - WNYC) New York City Transit suffered its third derailment in six months on October 24, when two train cars on the 6 train jumped the tracks near the Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall Station. That's the kind of major breakdown that tends to make riders wonder, could the subway be sliding backward toward the dark days of the 1970's? That's when crime and train breakdowns, among other ills, were common. And that was before a major investment in repairs and construction rescued it from the brink.

Amber Morgan, 42, has been riding the subway for 37 years. Standing on a platform at Union Square Station, she talked about how she'd seen the subway improve after a stretch of very lean years.

"It's better than it was in the ‘70s," she said. "I have memories of the subway when it was covered with graffiti and it was not safe. It's a different subway then when I was a kid."

But Morgan acknowledged she'd moved from Williamsburg to Manhattan because she and her husband didn't want to rely on the L train any more. And she worried it could get worse. "If they keep cutting the budget and keep raising the fare, less people will be able to ride it and it won't be as reliable," she said.

Budget cuts have made some things worse. Recent NY MTA data show a 20 percent increase in trains arriving more than five minutes late at the end of their runs. But New York City Transit President Tom Prendergast said major service disruptions — like those caused by derailments — are not worsening because of belt-tightening

"We do not think it's in any way related to budget issues or financial issues," he said. "We treat every derailment very seriously. I mean, I was here at a point in time twenty years ago, when we had 27 derailments a year."

Surprisingly, Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign agrees with Prendergast. He said the NY MTA's average of less than two derailments per year over the last five years is not bad. But Russianoff added delays and overcrowding are other matters.

"You know, it's not the bad old days yet," he said. "But you have to worry about going down the slippery slope."

There's reason for that concern. One big cause for weekday delays is overcrowding. Ridership is up since last year, when the MTA cut costs by eliminating and combining lines, and putting many trains on less frequent schedules.

Joe Sirefman, 81, was about to catch an uptown 1 train in the West Village an a bright fall afternoon. He's a native New Yorker who's ridden the subway his whole life. The increased crowding reminds him of what it was like to squeeze into a packed 6 train as a kid.

"I remember in the summertime hearing, 'Another shove, Madame, and I'll have to marry you,’" he said.

The MTA used to schedule its weekend and overnight trains to run often enough for every rider to have a seat. But with cutbacks, one in five riders is now expected to stand.  Factor in delays and cars can get crowded.

Still, there are bright spots.  A 1 train rider named Carol said things aren't as bad as before. "It's gotten better," she said. "The information that's given to us — the countdown clocks, the signs and all of that."

It seems that, if riders must be delayed, it helps to know for how long.

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WNYC News

Derailment Causes Subway Delays on No. 4, 5 and 6 Trains

Monday, October 24, 2011

WNYC

Nineteen people were evacuated Monday morning after two cars of an uptown No. 6 train derailed between Brooklyn Bridge and Canal Street, an MTA spokesman said. No one was injured.

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Transportation Nation

Derailment Sparks Fierce Debate Over Future Of Rail Between NY And NJ

Friday, August 12, 2011

(robotbrainz/Flickr)

(New York, NY - WNYC) For three rush hours over two days this week, the derailed New Jersey Transit train cars sat motionless as roadkill. They'd broken down not far from their point of departure, Penn Station in Manhattan, and were blocking a section of track outside one of two heavily used train tunnels beneath the Hudson River. With one slip off the rails, they'd reduced by half the rail capacity between New Jersey and the central business district of New York--a crucial commuter link that accommodates 1,300 trains a day. Massive delays ensued.

The longer the crippled cars idled, the lower two powerful New Jersey politicians swooped, looking to make a meal of the situation.

U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg issued a statement that essentially said, this is why New Jersey Governor Chris Christie should never have canceled the ARC Tunnel last fall. The project would have doubled the train lines under the Hudson from two to four. With an ARC Tunnel, a derailment blocking one track would leave three tracks running.

"The existing tunnel is over a century old and not capable of handling the increased traffic we will see in the future," Lautenberg said. "Instead of accepting $3 billion in federal funding for New Jersey to advance the ARC project, the Governor turned down the money and settled for the status quo – leaving New Jersey commuters and our economy to suffer."

In an email to WNYC, Christie press secretary Michael Drewniak called Lautenberg's remarks "completely gratuitous." He said the ARC Tunnel threatened cost overruns that New Jersey couldn't afford.

"The senator of all people should know by now that the tunnel project he continues to endorse was stopped because it was a very bad deal for New Jersey," Drewniak wrote, before adding that the governor supported "additional cross-Hudson commuter rail capacity."

As it happens, there's a plan for that. It's called Gateway Tunnel. (See this pdf). Senator Lautenberg is a champion of the project, though he much preferred the ARC tunnel, which would've added 25 trains per hour compared to Gateway's 21.  It was also already under construction, mostly funded, and scheduled to open by decade's end.

New Jersey's monetary contribution to the ARC project, which Christie believed was too high, would've meant that New Jersey Transit controlled it--as opposed to control by Amtrak, which already owns and oversees the existing tunnel.

The importance of that arrangement was shown by the recent derailment. Amtrak was in charge of dispatching trains along the sole serviceable track. It's unclear whether Amtrak privileged its dozens of rush hour trains compared to NJ Transit's hundreds, but for the most part Amtrak suffered delays of 15 to 45 minutes while NJ Transit saw massive cancellations and long delays. (It was a bilevel NJ Transit train that derailed. Neither Amtrak nor NJ Transit has cited a cause for the accident.)

Supporters of the Gateway Tunnel say it will cost $10 to $13 billion and ten years to complete. What are the chances it will happen? Next month will provide a clue, when Amtrak's request for $50 million for a design study comes before Congress. A staff member to an elected official familiar with the request said he expects a fierce fight over it, with cost-conscious Republicans in the House opposing and Democrats supporting it.

UPDATE. The Business Alliance for Northeast Mobility says in a blog post that when one of two train tunnels is blocked, capacity is actually cut by more than 50 percent:

When trains go through a single tunnel in one direction, they can follow each other one after the other with minimal space in between. But if a single tunnel serves trains going in both directions, the trains must be more spaced out, because a train going in one direction must wait for the train in the opposite direction to clear the tunnel. So, for example, two tunnels each serving 25 trains per hour, becomes one tunnel serving 15.

 

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WNYC News

Amtrak Derailment Forces LIRR to Cancel Some Trains

Monday, February 07, 2011

A derailed Amtrak train in a New York City tunnel has forced the Long Island Rail Road to cancel 16 rush-hour trains out of Penn Station.

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