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Articles Tagged with train accident

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North East Corridor RailroadThe Northeast Corridor had one of the worst train accidents in decades when the Amtrak 188 train connecting Washington DC to New York City derailed killing 8 people, injuring 200 including 11 of them critically. The  accident could have been prevented if the train was equipped with up to date technology such as “positive train control” that automatically limits the speed of the train or if the track were equipped with “Automatic Train Control” however like many other rail systems in the US,  the Northeast Corridor railway system is outdated and its infrastructure is crumbling.  As a result, trains are often delayed and passengers safety questionable.

15-year long modernization plan

To address these issues, the Northeast Corridor Commission was created in 2010 after approval by the Congress in 2008 with the mission to develop an implement a modernization program for the Northeast Corridor. Yesterday, this Commission released a 15-year plan including 150 projects to improve the  conditions of the actual system. The plan entitled “CONNECT 2035” includes  among the multiple projects a 5 year renovation project of  the Portal North bridge over the Hackensack River, repairing the North River tunnel, build 4 new stations in the Bronx.

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Did you know that 95% of fatal train accidents were caused by vehicles at train crossings and pedestrians on tracks? Every 3 hours in the US someone is hit by a train. Most of these accidents are preventable.

According to preliminary Federal Rail Road Administration Statistics, 262 people died and 871 were injured in 2,296 collisions with trains in 2018 in the US. 2,217 collisions occurred at highway-rail grade crossings. Pedestrian rail trespassing resulted in 1015 causalities (fatalities and injuries).  California and Texas have the most accidents  for both highway-rail grade crossings and trespassing.  New York ranked number 4 of  all states with the most pedestrian trespassing causalities. 36 people died and 13 were injured while trespassing on New York railroads in 2018.

Tips for New York Pedestrians to stay safe near railroads

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New-Jersey-Transit-trainThe 300,000 passengers who daily ride the NJ transit have reasons to worry about their safety. Last year federal inspectors scrutinized the New Jersey System and their findings are alarming. Just on train floors or passageway, inspectors found 140 hazards such as unlocked high voltage electrical panels with some of them containing paper tickets or touching bare wires. According to Nancy Snyder, a spokeswoman for the NJ Transit, the panels have been cleaned of the paper and locked reducing risks of fires for passengers.

Old, neglected and hazardous trains

Fire hazard is not the only hazard NJ Transit commuters are facing. During his two terms, the previous New Jersey Governor , Chris Christie, cut the NJ annual budget by 90%. Obviously what was left was barely enough to cover day to day expenses and the train system suffered badly. The fleet includes 50 year-old locomotives and passenger cars that were built in the 80ies and 90ies. Engines are old and neglected. Inspectors found locomotives were not in condition to operate with complete air-brake reservoir failure and misaligned foundation gears compromising the braking system. On another locomotive inspectors found that the system allowing traction on slippery tracks was broken.  In the accident that killed a woman on the Hoboken terminal, inspectors found out that the event recorders was broken on the lead locomotive. Several locomotives  were in use despite not having been inspected. Missing electrical grounding was common and suspension problems were found on a multitude of engines. Additionally  an employee was found playing with his cell phone while parking trains and forgetting to apply breaks.

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Positive Train Control can prevent accidentsIf Positive Train Control (PTC) was functioning, the recent fatal train accident between a New York –  Miami Amtrack and CSX freight train in South Carolina wouldn’t have occurred. PTC uses satellite technology and track sensors to determine the location of a train and to find out if there is a speed restriction or an obstruction ahead.

Unfortunately  wayside signals had been turned off for maintenance and were inoperative in the area of the accident . If they had been working PTC would have automatically slowed down the train and the accident may have been prevented.

PTC would have also prevented the derailment of the Amtrack train in Dupont, Washington last December. In the December accident, the train enginer failed to slow down before a curve causing the train to derail. This type of accident would not happen anymore if PTC was installed and functioning on all national railroads.

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train accidents 2016 statistics63% of all train accidents reported by the top 10 US  Commuter Railroads in 2016 occurred in New York City suburbs. The New Jersey Transit logged 21 of them (35%), the Long Island Rail Road 10 (17%) and Metro-North 7 (11%). These numbers were released at the beginning of the month by the  Federal Railroad Administration.

Most human caused train accidents logged by the 10 biggest US Commuter Railroads in 2016  also occurred on The 3 New York Commuter Railroads. Of a total of 33 train accidents caused by human error, 67% occurred in New York suburbs, with 40% of them occurring on the New Jersey Transit.

human caused train accidents 2016 graphThe New Jersey Transit (NJT) which reported 21 train accidents last year represented alone 35% of all the accidents.  The NJT, the third biggest transportation system in the US has been struggling with finance for years. Funds that were supposed to be invested in large development projects were used for day to day operations. As a result, commuters were charged higher fares for overcrowded trains that often suffer delays.

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New Jersey Transit trainAfter a train crashed into the Hoboken terminal killing one and injuring more than hundreds, the New Jersey Transit has been under intense scrutiny. Steven Santoro took over the role of executive director of the agency 3 weeks ago. He was appearing Friday at a joint hearing of the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee and the Assembly Judiciary Committee, which together are investigating NJ Transit’s troubled leadership and poor safety record.

During the hearing, Santoro revealed that a federal investigation into the New Jersey Transit found multiple safety violations. According to the Federal investigators found that emergency tools and fire extinguishers were lacking on some trains. They also found that employees were using their cellphones when they were not authorized to do so.  Engineers sometimes didn’t blow the horn at grade crossings or didn’t perform brake checks as required. Additionally, locomotives were not proprely secured in train yards.

Santoro admitted that to operate safely the agency would need to hire at least 305 more employees. Additional funding will also be necessary. Santoro explained that the money allocated to construction projects to keep the railroad safe was used to pay for new equipment purchases.

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OImage result for hoboken train terminalne person died and around 100 were injured in a train crash in Hoboken, just across the Hudson River from New York City. The train entered the terminal at high speed, crashed into the barriers and jumped onto the platform. The accident occurred yesterday morning during rush hour. Thousands of commuters were crowding the station. The impact was so strong that the concourse inside the terminal was torn apart. The ceiling fell onto the locomotive.

34 year old Fabiola Bittar de Kroon had just dropped her 18 month old child at a day care center and was waiting at the terminal to catch a train. During the accident, she was fatally hit by debris. A little more than 100 people were also injured by flying debris. More than 70 of them had to be transported to the hospital to be treated.  The young woman who was killed was a Brazilian lawyer. She had just moved to the United States a year ago to be with her husband, a businessman who had recently been relocated to New York by his company. De Kroon’s husband, Dann,  was in Pennsylvania for his work when the accident happened. He rushed back to the city to pick up his daughter at the day care center. He was clearly distraught. He asked the owner of the center  “How do you tell an 18-month-old that her mother is gone?”

The terminal was closed to the public Today as federal investors are inspecting the site of the train accident. The National Transportation Safety Board is turning its attention to the train engineere, Thomas Gallager, to better understand what he was doing during the crash.  Gallager who was rescued from his crumbled cabin, is fully cooperating. Gallager has been a train engineer for 29 years. According to his neighbor, Gallager wanted to be a train engineer since he was a kid and was enthusiastic about how much he loved his job.

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As part of its investigation into the Amtrak train accident that killed 8 and injured more than 200 people, the National Transportation Safety Board thoroughly analysed the engineer’s cell phone calls, texts, data and cell phone tower transmission activity records from the phone carrier; and records from Amtrak’s on-board Wi-Fi system. This analysis indicates that the engineer was not using his cell phone while operating the train.  Read the NTSB press release

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Amtrak AccidentAn Amtrak train heading from New York to Washington DC derailed yesterday night in Philadelphia. 6 people died and many the 243 passengers of suffered personal injury and were taken to the hospital. Among the people injured 6 of them were in critical condition. The Amtrak accident happened yesterday night around 9:30 close to Frankford Avenue and Wheatsheaf Lane near a bend in the track. One of the nation’s deadliest railroad accidents happened in the same spot on Labor Day 1943. A train carrying military service members on leave derailed killing 79 of them and injuring 117. The cause of yesterday’s train accident is still unknown. Speed as well deteriorating infrastructure and aging equipment are among the potential factors to be investigated. Former Congressman  Patrick J. Murphy was on board when the accident happened and tweeted the pictures on the left.
Read more about this train accident in the New York Times