New York Commuter Train Derailment Caused $9M in Railroad Damage

By JIM FITZGERALD | January 16, 2014

The commuter train derailment that killed four people in New York last month caused more than $9 million in damage to the railroad, officials said Tuesday.

The Metro-North Railroad said the figure covers repair or replacement of the locomotive, seven coaches and tracks that were damaged in the Dec. 1 derailment in the Bronx.

Metro North train derailment. Photo: NTSB
Metro North train derailment. Photo: NTSB

Spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said it does not include any costs from personal injury lawsuits.

The figure was disclosed as the National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report on the derailment that came to no conclusions and had little new information.

The two-page report did not address the possibility of human error in the crash or whether improved technology should have been in use when the train derailed.

NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said the agency’s determination of a probable cause could be a year or more away.

“It’s still early in our investigation so we don’t know what the final cause will be,” Holloway said.

The preliminary report restates previous findings that the train was traveling at 82 mph on a curve in the Bronx that had a 30 mph speed limit. It also repeats that no mechanical problems have been found.

Representatives of the train’s engineer, William Rockefeller, have said he may have lost focus at the controls in a momentary daze before the crash. The report does not mention the issue.

Holloway said a transcript of what Rockefeller – and other crew members – told the NTSB would probably be released before the final report. And he said that report would probably address whether existing technology might have prevented the derailment.

The NTSB has already said that a system called positive train control, which has not yet been installed, probably would have stopped the train.

A week after the derailment, Metro-North adjusted its signaling system so trains that are going too fast as they approach the bend near the Spuyten Duyvil station would trigger an alarm and an automatic braking system. The railroad said Tuesday it has also lowered some speed limits and improved speed monitoring.

The Federal Railroad Administration is conducting a two-month examination of the railroad’s safety compliance and safety culture. Metro-North’s president announced his retirement after the derailment.

U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer, D-NY, and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said Tuesday that the proposed federal budget includes funding for 45 new FRA inspectors.

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