Spokeswoman: Thursday's Incident 'Worst Derailment I've Ever Seen'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)Service is expected to resume regular service on Metro-North’s Hudson line in time for the Monday morning commute, following a suspension triggered by a freight train derailment Thursday night.

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There was a partial derailment of a freight train hauling trash in the vicinity of the Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx Thursday night. Ten of the train’s 24 cars derailed and needed to be removed, one by one, by crane.

The track was also fouled in the spot of the incident, according to the agency.

“It’s by far the worst derailment I’ve ever seen on Metro-North’s history,” Metro-North spokeswoman Marjorie Anders told WCBS 880 on Sunday afternoon.

Anders said the derailment happened in the worst possible location because that area of track is wedged between a rocky cliff and the river.

“It looks like a snow plow went through the track and just piled up all the rock and ties. It’s a major mess,” she added.

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“The good news is that the adjacent track had very little damage at all so we’re going to fix that first and put that in service tomorrow morning for rush hour,” Anders told 1010 WINS on Sunday morning. “This particular area where it happened only has two tracks, so we’re down to one for Monday and we are telling customers that they can expect delays and, in particular, people who use the train to go north.”

Later in the day Sunday, Anders sounded more cautiously optimistic about the resumption of service.

“I’m not a betting person, but I’m betting on Metro-North having one track back in service and a near normal AM rush on the Hudson line,” she told WCBS 880.

Service ran north of the incident site, with shuttle buses bridging the gap for Friday’s commute, but service on the Hudson line was suspended over the weekend so the necessary track work could be done, the agency said.

“With three days, we believe Metro-North forces will be able to clear the wreck, rebuild the infrastructure and test all systems in time to provide regular train service come Monday morning,” said Metro-North President Howard Permut in a statement. “Our crews have been working hard in very difficult conditions – around the clock in blazing heat and humidity. They deserve high praise and gratitude.”

Ten freight train cars full of compacted garbage were derailed on Thursday, by Sunday afternoon seven had been removed. Of the three remaining cars, one was laying in a particularly narrow and difficult to reach spot.

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“So we’re working from the north end, working from the south end, there’s no working from the middle because there is no way to get there, so it’s you know a full court press,” Anders told CBS 2’s Dave Carlin.

The derailment response has featured more than 100 workers using a pair of wreck canes and four smaller cranes, the crew will also have to rebuild 1,500-ft of track.

The transit agency said delays were possible for the morning rush hour in a statement released on Sunday night.

“Damage to the track was so substantial that only one of the two tracks in the area will be returned to service for the Monday morning rush,” the MTA said.

There will be enough track capacity to handle forty inbound and twelve outbound trains during a.m. peak hours. Once the track is cleared of work equipment crews will test the track ahead of Monday morning’s commute.

On Monday the line will operate on a regular schedule with ‘scattered delays up to 15-minutes’, the MTA announced.

In order to repair the remaining 1,500-ft of track crews will work at night and late night off-peak bus service will be made available to accommodate passengers, more information will be available through the MTA’s website on Monday.

The National Transportation Safety Board has not released an official statement on the cause of the derailment, which was not the first rail service disruption this summer, but officials and commuters have voiced their frustration.

“In the recent heat wave we’ve had a whole series of derailments and equipment failures,” Senator Charles Schumer said.

The extreme weather may have played a role in three service breakdowns over the last month.

“We depend on mass transit and if temperatures continue to rise and we have the kinds of delays almost unheard of 4-years ago, the same as we’ve had in the last week, this city is going to be hurt economically and in many other ways,” Sen Schumer said.

The Hudson line runs from Manhattan to Poughkeepsie, about 80 miles north.

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