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NTSB: Metro-North Knew Of Bend In Track Before Derailment On New Haven Line

A section of the track in Rye that may have led to a train derailment. Photo Credit: National Transportation Safety Board
The wheels on a number of the cars are off the tracks in a minor derailment on Metro-North's New Haven Line near Rye, N.Y., last month. Photo Credit: MTA/Facebook
MTA chief Veronique 'Ronnie' Hakim tours the site of the Metro-North train that derailed in Rye, N.Y., last month. Photo Credit: MTA/Twitter

Metro-North officials were aware of a bend in the track before a train derailed last month, injuring more than a dozen people along the New Haven Line, the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday.

The preliminary report on the Metro-North train derailment in Rye, N.Y. — which injured 16 people — indicated that excessive heat may have caused the bend in the track.

A commuter train traveling on the New Haven Line in Rye, which originated from Stamford and was headed for Grand Central Terminal, derailed shortly before 5 p.m. May 18, leaving 14 passengers, a train engineer and conductor with minor injuries.

According to the NTSB, track 3 — where the derailment happened — had experienced additional traffic on the day of the incident because main track 1 was out of service that day, increasing its use from 85 trains per day to more than 100.

Records show that at 1:20 p.m. that day, a Metro-North engineer reported a possible track condition on Track 3. Two track inspectors in a hi-rail vehicle conducted an inspection for potential heat-related track problems in the area and found that the track was misaligned, the NTSB said.

Before 3 p.m., an engineer reported “a real nasty kink in the rail,” and a 30 mph speed restriction in that location was put in place by a rail traffic controller.

The NTSB said that shortly before 3:30 p.m., another engineer reported on the radio, “Yeah, the kink is pretty bad. I went over it doing 15 (mph) and I could still feel it pretty significantly,” prompting the rail traffic controller to reduce the speed restriction to 15 mph. The speed restriction would later be reduced to 10 mph due to the track misalignment.

The track supervisor told the NTSB that he thought the track was misaligned about 2 inches, though the deviation was not measured. At 4:30 p.m., as the supervisor was preparing to leave the area, he reported to the rail traffic controller that the alignment had not worsened and left the area. A half-hour later, the train derailed.

The NTSB report is preliminary and more information is coming.

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