Federal authorities begin investigation into what happened at derailment, service remains suspended

 

Train passenger Rob Oliver of New Haven took this photo after getting off one of the trains and posted it to Twitter.

Train passenger Rob Oliver of New Haven took this photo after getting off one of the trains and posted it to Twitter.

UPDATED SATURDAY 11:40 A.M. — The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is on the scene of Friday night’s derailment and an investigation has begun into what exactly happened as service remains suspended between South Norwalk and New Haven until further notice.

Hourly service between South Norwalk Station and Grand Central Terminal will be provided.  Regular service will operate between Stamford and Grand Central Terminal.  Regular service will be in effect on the New Canaan and Danbury Branches.

NTSB investigators arrived at the scene at 9 a.m.this morning and no causes have been ruled out yet. Gov. Dannel Malloy said the equipment has been ordered by the state Department of Transportation to remove the trains from the tracks but it can’t be used yet as the on-scene investigation begins. It was estimated Saturday morning that the on-scene investigation will take an estimated seven to 10 days but the tracks will not need to be closed that long. However there is still no determination yet when the tracks will be reopened and full service can be restored.
“People will have to be patient. We want to get this investigation right whether that takes one day or several days,” U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said at a Saturday press conference where he was joined by Sen. Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Rep. Jim Himes. All three men marveled at the damage caused when the eastbound train derailed and was struck by the westbound train.
“I feel we are fortunate that not more injuries were the result of this tragic and unfortunate accident” Mr. Blumenthal said, adding that he believed the new Metro North cars that were brought in recently may have played a part in preventing further injuries or worse.
“Investment in infrastructure and investment in quality of transportation is probably one of the lessons we will learn from this accident,” he added.
Mr.. Blumenthal said that he and Mr. Murphy had been assured by the NTSB they will finish “as quickly as possible at the scene” to clear the tracks and added, “I am very heartened and encouraged by their total dedication to getting Connecticut back to business,” Sen. Blumenthal said.
With no determination yet what caused the derailment, the speakers at Saturday’s press conference urged patience.
Mr. Blumenthal said while the best current speculation is focusing on tracks now,  “Nobody knows right now and no one should leap to conclusions about what the causes are. That’s why the NTSB is here.”
The NTSB will be looking at braking performance for the trains, the conditions of the wheels and the cars and the track. Additionally, the NTSB will be examining the signaling information to see if the signals were operating properly as well as crew performance.
“In terms of human performance we will be looking for anything that would affect the operator’s performance or behavior” the NTSB said Saturday.

UPDATED SATURDAY 9:45 A.M.  — Some of those injured in Friday night’s train collision of two Metro-North trains remain hospitalized Saturday.

Friday evening’s collision left 60 people injured, five critically.

Of the 26 taken to Bridgeport Hospital, two remain critical, one is stable and 23 were treated and released.

St. Vincent’s Medical Center, where the other injured were taken, has been asked for an update on their conditions.

One of the injured was in “very critical” condition, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Friday night.

“This is a very serious incident as you are probably all aware,” Mr. Malloy said during a press conference on Commerce Street near the Bridgeport-Fairfield border Friday night, May 17.

One of the trains intruded into the other, Mr. Malloy said.

The crash straddled Bridgeport and Fairfield, and drew emergency responders from the city, the town and as far away as Waterbury.

The National Transportation Safety Board was expected to begin its investigation Saturday, May 18.

Updates will be posted as they become available.

 

UPDATED FRIDAY 10 P.M. — “This is a very serious incident as you are probably all aware,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said during a Friday night press conference near the scene of Friday’s train collision.

He said 60 people were transported to hospitals.

Mr. Malloy said five people are critically injured with one in “very critical condition.”

Mr. Malloy said the area will be secured for national investigation that could lead into tomorrow morning.

“We’re most concerned with the injured, and then reopening the system,” Mr. Malloy said.

Mr. Malloy said the state is working with the MTA and Amtrak on a response.

“We want to get people home,” he said.

There is “pretty devastating dmage” to the rail cars with a side ripped off and “extensive damage” to front, Mr. Malloy said.

“We have no reason to believe it was anything but an accident but obviously that is somethign that needs to be looked at,” Mr. Malloy said.

He said he promises a “full and robust” investigation and said “nothing can be ruled out, but nothing is being promoted as a cause yet.”

Mr. Malloy said travelers shold anticipate that train service will end at Bridgeport and South Norwalk at least through Monday. This includes Amtrak service between New York and Boston.

“In a perfect world, we would be up and running by Monday morning, but I’m not saying that,” Mr. Malloy said.

He said the factors that impact future travel are how long the investigation takes and how long it takes to replace tracks that have been torn up.

Mr. Malloy said that at least 10 people have been released from the hospital for their injuries, and expects that number to grow.

Meanwhile, two of New Haven Line’s four tracks have been under repair in Fairfield and Bridgeport. The accident has closed the other two until NTSB completes investigation, which means regular travel could take a while to resume, as Jim Cameron just pointed out on Twitter.

UPDATED FRIDAY 9:10 P.M. — This crash has gotten reactions from close transportation observers within the state.

”I have no memory in decades of anything close to this happening, ” Jim Cameron, chairman of the CT Metro-North / Shore Line East Rail Commuter Council and author of the Post’s column Talking Transportation said Friday night.

This appears to be the worst train accident in more than 35 years.

This appears to be the worst Connecticut rail crash since two trains collided, killing two, on the New Canaan Line, a branch line that is just one track, off the New Haven line, in October 1976. The head-on collision also injured 29. The engineer of the north-bound train was blamed for the accident by the state DOT.

The main New Haven Line has four tracks.

UPDATED FRIDAY 8:42 PM — One person has a severe head injury and three others are in serious condition, Bridgeport Police tell Hersam Acorn Newspapers. The injured have been taken to the two Bridgeport hospitals, St. Vincent’s Medical Center and Bridgeport Hospital.

Additionally, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Greenwich resident, has said that the National Transportation Safety Board is on its way to the scene and is expected to begin an investigation into what happened.

UPDATED FRIDAY 8:35 PM — Officials on the scene are now reporting that 49 passenger and train crew members were injured, Fairfield Police chief just told Hersam Acorn’s John Kovach, who is on the scene. Twenty two were transported to on hospital, 27 to another.

Governor Dannell Malloy is headed to the scene, according to Hersam Acorn’s John Kovach, who is on the scene. He is expected to give a press conference once at the scene.

UPDATED FRIDAY 8:22 PM — Bus service is being provided from Stamford eastbound, according to a passenger on a train delayed by the collision. Details are still sketch and if you are traveling on the trains this evening, it is best to listen for announcements at the stations or on the trains. And if you can, make other arrangements.

 

According to MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan, it is way too early to assess whether or not there would be train service to grand central tomorrow. Earlier, local police said it would likely be suspended from at least Bridgeport to Grand Central.

He confirmed that there are approximately two dozen people injured and approximately three are serious injuries. Police on the scene have said there are four serious injuries.

According to Metro North, westbound service will originate out of South Norwalk making all stops to Grand Central Terminal. Eastbound service will make all stops to South Norwalk due to a derailment in the vicinity of Bridgeport.  They urge passenders to listen for announcements at their station.

 

UPDATED FRIDAY 8:09 PM — Two MTA engineers are among the four seriously injured in the Friday rush hour train collision in Fairfield, according to police.

MTA Police, who are now overseeing the accident investigation, are interviewing them at the hospital. The National Transportation Safety Board and the U.S. Secret Service have also been notified of the crash, according to officials. The collision happened on the Fairfield-Bridgeport line, according to Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara.

The cause of the collision remains undetermined, Fairfield Police Lt. James Perez said. He called it “pretty serious.”

UPDATED FRIDAY 7:57 PM — Metro-North Train service suspended between South Norwalk and New Haven. Amtrak service suspended between New York and Boston. Twenty two were injured, four seriously injured, according to Bridgeport Police. All 22 were transported to hospital.

FRIDAY 7:49 PM — There will be no trains to Grand Central on Saturday, Bridgeport Police told Hersam Acorn’s John Kovach, who is on the scene in Fairfield. It is not known how far east that suspension could last.

7:32 PM — Here’s what a Metro-North spokesman just told Hersam Acorn’s Susan Shultz:

At approximately 610 p.m., eastbound train was derailed at fairfield metro station, the derailment caused a collision with a Westbound train. There were no fatalities and no reports of life threatening injuries, but multiple non-life threatening injuries.

New Haven Line train service is suspended in both directions between Stamford and New Haven until further notice.

7:26 PM — At least 22 passengers have been transported to area hospitals, according to emergency officials.

There are ambulances reporting to the scene from as far as Waterbury. Up to 300 passengers were aboard the trains, according to the Connecticut Post. “At this stage, we don’t know if this is a mechanical failure, an accident or something deliberate,” said Fairfield Police spokesman told that newspaper.

There are reports of many “walking wounded” around the tracks near Commerce Drive in Fairfield.

Surface roads in the area have heavy traffic. Exit 25 on Interstate 95 in both directions are closed.

7PM — Many rail passengers have been injured in a train collision Friday in Fairfield. Metro North Railroad spokesman has called it a “horrible accident.”

A westbound train with passengers collided with a disabled train near Commerce Drive in Fairfield, according to reports.

At the scene, there are reports of many passengers walking around wounded. Many ambulances are reporting to the scene.

Friday evening Metro North Railroad service along the New Haven Line is disrupted, mostly east of South Norwalk. There are several injuries being reported at the scene.

Trains from Grand Central are not going past South Norwalk, according to the railroad and commuters. Trains are still traveling to New Canaan, according to reports.

More information will be posted as it becomes available.

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