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Deadly Derailment Is Latest Mishap In Year Of Trouble For Metro-North

Power Failure, Multiple Derailments Have Happened This Year
Metro-North Power

Crews hope to use generators and residential power to supply electricity to the Metro-North New Haven line. (Credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP)The deadly crash in the Bronx Sunday was the second train derailment in just six months for the Metro-North Railroad, and prevents the rail service with another problem in a year already plagued by safety issues.

• On Sept. 25, a feeder cable in Mount Vernon failed, knocking out power for 12 days to Metro-North’s New Haven line, which carries 132,000 commuters daily. Metro-North estimated that the outage cost between $8 million and $12 million.

On July 18, 10 freight train cars hauling garbage derailed near the same Spuyten Duyvil station close to which the Sunday accident happened. 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.

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, and also cost Connecticut’s economy $62 million. It prompted criticism by officials of Con Edison, after neither the utility nor Metro-North was willing to take the blame.

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