Thursday, December 18, 2014

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Derailments Historically Rare in Subway System

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TWC News: Derailments Historically Rare in Subway System
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Train derailments can be frightening, and very rarely, they've been deadly, but NY1 transit reporter Jose Martinez says they're also rare. He filed the following report.

Investigators will be taking a hard look at the portion of the track where the train went off the rails and have already spoken with the train's motorman and conductor.

"What is going on is a detailed accident investigation of tracks, signals, train operations and any other factors that may have contributed to the accident," said MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast.

Sources say investigators will look closely at that now-mangled stretch of track, trying to find any indication of a defect that existed before the accident. It won't be an easy job.

"There's twisted rails, there's bent girders, and a lot of broken plates and concrete," said Paul Navarro of Transport Workers Union Local 100.

Derailments are rare in the subway system. The last one occurred last May, when a 1 train jumped the tracks at the 125th Street station.

In one of the deadliest days in the MTA's history, a speeding train derailed at Union Square in 1991, killing five passengers. The train's operator was drunk. He was convicted of manslaughter and sent to prison.

The human factor is just one consideration when it comes to safety. Among improvements since then include adding track geometry trains that use lasers and sensors to look for defects along tracks and third rails.

MTA and union officials said riders can trust the system.

"We have one of the safest systems," Navarro said. "We have, like, 6,500 miles of track, and you know, things are going to happen, unfortunately, but I would not be alarmed if I was the public."

Riders who were on the derailed train said they're not so sure.

"It never crossed my mind that it was going to go or do something like this, so I probably won't be as oblivious as I am now," said one rider.

Making for a memorable morning commute, the likes of which riders hope they never experience again.

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