Penn Station Derailment and Collision Disrupts Evening Train Service

A morning collision on March 24, 2017, at New York’s Penn Station affected evening rush hour travel in the metropolitan area.

On Friday morning, an incoming NJ Transit train was hit when an Amtrak train leaving Penn Station derailed during the morning rush hour, CBSNewYork reports. Around 9 a.m., an Acela Express Train from Boston was leaving Penn Station on its way to Washington D.C. Amtrak said the train had “a minor derailment while moving at a slow speed.”

Amtrak Train Sideswipes NJ Transit Train

The wheel of the train slipped off the tracks, narrowing the space the space between trains, causing the Acela to sideswipe an NJ Transit train in the adjoining lane, CBSNewYork reported.

Parker Waichman notes that this the latest in a recent series of derailments and crashes involving both passenger trains and freight trains. Earlier this month, a CSX freight train carrying hazardous materials derailed near Newburgh, New York. A CSX train crash in Biloxi, Mississippi the same day killed three people on a bus hit by the train.

Passengers on the NJ Transit train described the impact to CBSNewYork. “We were just pulling into the station, not going very fast and I guess another train that was leaving hit us really hard and it basically sideswiped us,” passenger Jennifer Hutzel told radio station 1010 WINS. Another NJ Transit passenger, Jordan Geary, said, “I was looking at my phone and I felt a giant explosion next to my head, and my window caved in. . . In the millisecond after that, this other train departing Penn Station raked the side of our train, popping in all the windows and knocking doors ajar and ripping metal off our car,” he said.

According to Amtrak, there were 248 passengers and crew on board the Acela train at the time. The train was still near the platform and everyone was able to safely leave the train, CBSNewYork reported.

The Office of Emergency Management said three of the Amtrak passengers suffered minor injuries. One man was carried out of the Acela club on a stretcher, but Amtrak would not confirm whether his injuries were one of the three reported. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Twitter, “Thankfully we’re hearing there were no serious injuries at Penn Station after derailment of an Amtrak train.”

Inspectors with the Federal Railroad Association examined the trains and the track but the cause of the derailment remained under investigation late Friday. City College of New York civil engineering professor Robert “Buzz” Paaswell told CBS2 that a number of things could have caused the derailment. “There could have been something wrong with the wheels on the train that maintenance didn’t catch. . .or maybe something happened to an axle, or a wheel might have gotten loose.”

Difficult Evening Commute

Late Friday afternoon, thousands of commuters had to deal with delays and cancellations in the aftermath of the morning events. NJ Transit began offering limited service leaving Penn Station. MidTown Direct trains were still operating in and out of Hoboken. “I spent my whole day coming here and waiting here, and it’s going to be even worse — if I have to go home and unpack everything — It’s going to be really annoying,” said Jessica Staniszewski of Marine Park, Brooklyn.

The Long Island Rail Road, though not involved in Friday’s accident, was affected on Friday evening. Anticipating delays and cancellation, the LIRR recommended that commuters try to leave the city before 4 p.m. or delay their departures until after 8 p.m. For normal evening rush service, the LIRR has nine departure tracks at Penn Station, but on Friday, that number was reduced by more than 50 percent, to only four tracks. The LIRR said 29 evening rush-hour trains were cancelled.

NJ Transit and the LIRR both expected to resume normal weekend schedules on Saturday.

The Long Island Rail Road—the nation’s busiest commuter line—has experienced two serious incidents in the last six months. In January, an LIRR train arriving at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, crashed through a barrier at the end of the tracks, injuring more than 100 people. In October 2016, a Long Island Rail Road train derailed near New Hyde Park. More than 30 people were injured in that derailment, Newsday reported.

Legal Help for Those Injured in a Train Crash or Derailment

If you or someone you know has been injured in a train crash or derailment, you may be entitled to compensation. The personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP can provide a free, no obligation evaluation of a possible case. To reach the firm, fill out the contact form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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