Metro-North Railroad’s New Haven line will resume regular service in time for Wednesday’s morning commute, five days after a derailment in Connecticut involving 16 cars knocked out part of the busiest U.S. rail corridor and left more than 75 people injured.
Workers have been busy around the clock removing the 16 cars involved in the accident from the scene and repairing the 2,000 feet (610 meters) of destroyed track, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which oversees the railroad, said today in a statement. Tomorrow’s commute will look much like today’s, with buses bridging the gap between Bridgeport and South Norwalk.
“We are confident that the reconstruction work, inspection and testing will be completed in time for a normal rush hour” on May 22, Metro-North President Howard Permut said in the statement. “We are grateful for the tireless work of all departments and employees engaged in this huge task.”
Six months after Hurricane Sandy crippled New York-area transit, as many as 30,000 Metro-North users had to revive their resourcefulness following the May 17 accident. Commuters grappled with disrupted train schedules and heavy traffic, and Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy urged people to stay home. Amtrak service between New York City and New Haven remained suspended.
Tomorrow, trains are set to continuing operating between New Haven and Bridgeport, where riders can catch a bus connection to Stamford before picking up another train to New York City. Today’s operation went as planned with no crowding reported, the MTA said.
Investigators are seeking the cause of the derailments involving two trains and about 700 riders in one of the worst U.S. passenger rail wrecks since 2008. Seventy-six people were injured, with seven still hospitalized, including one in critical condition, Malloy said today. The mishap damaged overhead electrical wires and signal equipment in addition to tracks, Permut said.
Round-the-clock work to restore the Northeast Corridor tracks was reminiscent of the recovery from Sandy in November. In that case, however, New York City was essentially shut and the agency didn’t arrange anywhere near the 120 buses assembled for the current crisis, said Aaron Donovan, an MTA spokesman.
Highway users should carpool, Malloy, a 57-year-old Democrat, said at a news briefing in Hartford. Commuters who make it into New York City should consider staying until repairs are made, he said. Additional state troopers and tow trucks were ready on Interstate 95 between Bridgeport and New York City, which sees bumper-to-bumper traffic even on normal days.
Options for commuters include driving to Metro-North stations in Westchester County, New York, for service on the Harlem River line, which accepts New Haven line tickets, said Jim Cameron, chairman of the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council, a rider-advocacy group, in an interview.
The MTA said the accident occurred when an eastbound New York City-to-New Haven train went off the tracks about 6:10 p.m. local time near an I-95 highway overpass in Bridgeport. A train traveling in the opposite direction on an adjacent track then struck the derailed cars.
Both trains were traveling at 70 miles an hour before the accident, the National Transportation Safety Board said yesterday. Investigators will examine the condition of brakes and wheels on rail cars and interview crews from both trains, the agency said in a post on Twitter.