U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal paid a "bone chilling" visit to the site of Sunday morning's Metro-North derailment in the Bronx and is calling on the National Transportation Safety Board to conduct a quick and thorough investigation.
Blumenthal issued the following statement after visiting the crash site Monday afternoon:
"The fact that this train left the tracks at 82 miles per hour is absolutely harrowing and appalling. Our visit to the site was bone chilling. Whatever the cause – operator error or equipment malfunction – this train was going far too fast. This serious incident is the fifth for Metro-North in just more than six months, raising urgent questions about safety and reliability that the railroad must confront. I renewed my call to NTSB officials today for an expedited investigation and report. The faith of Metro-North's riders is on the line."
The derailment happened just before 7:30 a.m. on Sunday as a Hudson Line train was passing through the Bronx on the way from Poughkeepsie to New York City. The train was discovered to have been traveling in excess of 80 mph in an area with a posted speed limit of 30 mph.
Four people were killed and more than 60 others were injured, 11 critically.
NTSB crews responded to the scene of the derailment to investigate the cause of the crash. Blumenthal has called for the investigation to be accelerated.
“I want it to be expedited. We need answers, not a year from now, but right away and we need action to make sure that riders are really assured that safety and reliability are not only a priority but accomplished,” Blumenthal said Monday morning.
Blumenthal said he has spoken with NTSB and Metro-North personnel.
“I want to make sure we have answers and actually know what happened,” Blumenthal said.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said speed seems to be a major factor, but it's not clear whether it resulted from operator error or a mechanical problem.
This derailment is the latest issue in a string of problems for Metro-North, including a previous derailment in Bridgeport this past May.
On May 17, an eastbound train derailed in Bridgeport, Connecticut and hit a westbound train. There were no fatalities, but 73 passengers, two engineers and a conductor were injured.
Two of the cars involved in the New York crash on Sunday are Connecticut-owned.
“Riders are losing patience and so am I, because we have had four major incidents, really raising issues about safety and reliability over a little more than a year,” Blumenthal said.
He issued the following statement on Sunday:
“This desperately tragic derailment dramatizes again the need for focus on railroad safety and reliability – adding powerful evidence to recent Connecticut incidents. Although causes must be determined, Metro-North must confront questions about adequacy of equipment, tracks, and maintenance and repair practices.
“Riders are losing patience with this railroad and so am I. These severe accidents and service disruptions are unacceptable. I have contacted NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman and urged an expedited investigation. In addition to reaching out to NTSB, my office and I are in contact with New York and Connecticut officials as they work to reduce disruption to travel on Connecticut lines.
“In the meantime, our hearts and prayers go out to the injured and loved ones of fatalities.”
The Metro-North New Haven Line has not been affected by the derailment, but Connecticut commuters have said they're shaken up.
The Hudson Line is suspended indefinitely in New York. Amtrak service from New York City to Albany was halted, restored and then re-suspended on Sunday afternoon.