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Metro-North Knew Of Bend In Track Before Westchester Derailment, NTSB Says

A section of the track in Rye that may have led to a train derailment.
A section of the track in Rye that may have led to a train derailment. Photo Credit: National Transportation Safety Board

Metro-North officials were aware of a bend in the track prior to a train derailment earlier this year that injured more than a dozen people, the National Transportation Safety Board said on Thursday.

The preliminary report from this year’s Metro-North train derailment in Rye that injured a 16 people has been released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), indicating that excessive heat may have helped lead to a bend in the track.

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

According to the NTSB, track 3 - where the derailment happened - experienced additional traffic on the day of the incident because main track 1 was out of service on the day in question, increasing its ridership from approximately 85 trains per day to more than 100.

Records show that at 1:20 p.m. on the day of the derailment, a Metro-North engineer reported a possible track condition on track 3. Two track inspectors in a hi-rail vehicle conducted a track inspection for potential heat-related track problems in the area and found that the track was misaligned, the NTSB stated. 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 that “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 again 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 approximately two inches, though the deviation was not measured. At 4:30 p.m. that day, as the supervisor was preparing to leave the area, he reported to the rail traffic controller that the alignment did not worsen and left the area. A half hour later, the train derailed.

The NTSB report is preliminary and more information is coming. Keep following Daily Voice for updates.

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