Crack in Metro-North Tracks Repaired at Train Derailment

Related to the 1st Episode of Rubicon perhaps?

By Alan Levin – May 24, 2013 12:12 PM CT

The rails where a Metro-North Railroad train derailed May 17 in Connecticut had been repaired a month before the accident that snarled commuters and injured at least 75 people.

Maintenance records showed that a cracked rail was discovered in April at the spot where one train jumped the track and was struck by a second train on an adjacent rail in the city of Bridgeport, the National Transportation Safety Board said in an e-mail statement.

Metro-North is inspecting all the “joint bars” on its main line tracks, the NTSB said. The joint bar, which connects two sections of rail together, was the piece that work crews discovered cracked last month.

After the accident, the rail was found cracked at the joint, the NTSB said in a Twitter posting May 18. The NTSB has taken that section to its lab for evaluation.

Broken rail can cause a derailment, though a train going off the rails can also damage track, Allan Zarembski, director of the railroad engineering and safety program at the University of Delaware, said in an interview.

The engineer of the train that derailed, which was traveling eastbound, told investigators he saw “what he described as an unusual condition on the track” just before the accident, the investigative agency said. The NTSB didn’t describe what the engineer had spotted.

Choked Commute

The eastbound train came to a stop before a second westbound trail struck it and slid alongside the rail cars, the NTSB said. The engineer on the second train had applied the brakes before the collision.

Adam Lisberg, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which oversees the railroad, declined to comment on the report in an e-mail.

Metro-North resumed limited runs on the tracks between New York and New Haven, Connecticut, on May 21. Regular service returned the next day after crews repaired 2,000 feet (610 meters) of destroyed track and removed the 16 cars involved in the accident.

As many as 30,000 Metro-North users had to find alternatives during their commutes and Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy urged people to stay home.

The same lines are used by Amtrak, which halted service between New York and New Haven. The U.S. national railroad lost $5 million in revenue during the closing, Joseph Boardman, chief executive officer of Amtrak, said in an interview May 21 after testifying at a congressional hearing.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Levin in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at



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