Connecticut Train Crash Highlights Rail Dangers, But Also Improvements in Rail Safety
Back in the 1980’s there was a radio commercial encouraging people to “take the train to the plane.” If you think about it even a little bit, the tune will come to you. New York City is well known for its subway trains and trains leading to other parts of the country. The Metro-North Railroad line runs between New York City and New Haven, Connecticut. This rail line transports around 30,000 people every day. While trains are relatively safe, derailments and collisions are possible and happen from time to time.
On May 17, 2013, two passenger trains collided on the Metro-North line near Fairfield, Connecticut. The eastbound train jumped the track and collided with a westbound train on an adjacent track. More than 70 people were injured and rushed to area hospitals. The two trains were transporting about 700 passengers between them. The National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) has investigators on site to try to determine the cause of the derailment and collision. As the investigation has progressed, train cars have been removed from the site. But Metro-North has informed commuters that about 2,000 feet of track and overhead wires will need to be replaced prior to the line reopening.
The cars involved in the collision were heavily damaged. Doors were ripped off some cars and deep gashes were easily seen where cars sideswiped each other. But none of the cars flipped over during the collision. News outlets have noted that the cars involved in this collision are newer cars installed in 2011 that were built to new code standards. The rail company is reviewing not just the damage to the cars, but also how the new safety features helped lessen the number of total injuries.
NTSB investigators are examining the tracks across the accident scene and found a section of track fractured at a rail joint. The NTSB does not know whether this fracture was the cause of the accident or resulted from the accident. Considering that the track had been repaired over the previous month, the NTSB will be examining the stretch of track closely.
While this train collision happened in Connecticut, it is still important for us New Yorkers to be vigilant considering all of the trains that service our large metro area. Unlike the January ferry crash where there had been a recent previous accident and there were questions about the captain following proper procedures, the last major accident on the Metro-North line occurred in 1988. But there are questions about the physical track the eastbound train was traveling on. As we stated with the ferry accident, trains are “common carriers” and must take greater care when transporting passengers.
If you have been injured while riding the subway or other trains in New York, contact our personal injury attorney about your rights and your options.