CT Responds to NTSB Report on Westchester Train Crash

The findings of the report into the Valhalla train crash that happened more than two years included some areas where Connecticut could end up being a focus.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded that driver error was the primary factor in the collision and explosion with an SUV at a railroad crossing that led to the deaths of six people, including the driver.

One of the other main findings related to the design and implementation of the electrified third rail that provides power to the line. Investigators found the very design led to it coming in contact with the SUV, and exploding, leading to images seen around the world of the charred and smoldering train car connected to the automobile.

In Connecticut, Metro-North tracks are not powered by a third rail, but are instead powered by what’s known as a “catenary system.” That complex arrangement of wires and cables above the tracks in Connecticut was installed in 1907 and only routine maintenance had been provided up until the 1980s.

State officials told NBC Connecticut that catenary system is in the midst of an upgrade, which is expected to be complete by next summer.

On issues with railroad crossings, and making sure they are clearly marked and up to date, Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) Commissioner James Redeker said in a statement, "CTDOT and Metro-North have worked to make every crossing as safe as possible, with lights, signage, gates and other warning devices. Ultimately, it is up to drivers to be aware of their surroundings as they approach a rail crossing. The train always has the right of way at a crossing."

The NTSB also recommended that Metro-North needs to conduct a risk-assessment along its tracks and railroad crossings.

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