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Westchester Collision Is Latest In Series Of Metro-North Accidents

The train derailment at the Bridgeport-Fairfield border that injured 72 people in 2013.
The train derailment at the Bridgeport-Fairfield border that injured 72 people in 2013. Photo Credit: Fairfield Police Department

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – The accident Tuesday evening that killed six people near the station in Valhalla, N.Y., is the latest in a series of accidents that have plagued Metro-North trains over the past couple of years.

The latest accident at the crossing in Valhalla is the deadliest in Metro-North’s history.

About 70 people were injured in May 2013 when a Metro-North train derailed and clipped another train near the Bridgeport-Fairfield border . An investigation concluded that a broken joint holding two pieces of track together was to blame for the derailment. On Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board also announced that it believes the bolts on Metro-North’s new M-8 cars are too weak and should be replaced. The NTSB said that although the weak bolts did not cause the accident, they did contribute to the severity of the incident.

Four people were killed and 63 were injured in December 2013 when a train derailed in the Bronx , N.Y., near the Spuyten Duyvil station. In that case, the engineer of the train had fallen asleep while driving due to a sleep apnea condition , causing the train to pick up speed and go off the rails.

The Bridgeport and Bronx incidents sparked outrage from lawmakers and other officials , who called on Metro-North to step up its safety practices. The NTSB said that positive train control technology could have prevented the Bronx derailment by reducing the speed of the train.

In January 2013, a snapped catenary line caused a power outage that halted a train between the Greens Farms and Westport stations . About 200 passengers were stranded in the extreme cold and had to be rescued via a side-by-side evacuation. The very next day, the headaches continued as thousands of customers were stuck in stations and on board trains for hours after a power outage shut down service on the New Haven, Hudson and Harlem lines.

Just last week, a train to Wassaic jumped off the tracks at it was leaving Grand Central Terminal. Nobody was injured in the incident, but the accident caused delays along all Metro-North lines.

Last winter, Metro-North worked for months to repair problems at grade crossings on the Danbury Branch.

After completing a signal project along the branch in November 2013, Metro-North discovered that the detection system that closes the gates was sometimes activated when no trains were approaching. It took months to repair.

Collisions between trains and cars have also been a regular occurrence. In the past 11 years, there have been 62 train crossing accidents in Connecticut, resulting in 70 deaths, according to Hearst Connecticut Media .

Among the most common crossings for accidents are the Springdale crossing in Stamford, the Camp Avenue crossing in Darien, the Long Ridge Road crossing in Redding and the Herbert Street crossing in Milford.

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