New York

Bad Track Caused Most Recent Derailment at New York Penn Station, Report Finds

The July 6 derailment in a Hudson River tunnel was the third in less than four months at Penn Station; it came days before Amtrak's overhaul began

What to Know

  • A new report finds a faulty track condition caused the most recent train derailment at New York Penn Station
  • The July 6 derailment in a Hudson River tunnel was the third in less than four months at the Manhattan transit hub
  • It came days before Amtrak began its months-long overhaul

A faulty track condition caused the most recent train derailment at New York's Penn Station, an accident that came days before Amtrak began its months-long infrastructure overhaul at the aging Manhattan hub, a new report says. 

The first car behind the locomotive on the inbound train derailed shortly before 9 p.m., according to the report, when the train switched from one track to another. The report blamed defective parts anchoring the rail as well as the train's lateral motion when it switched to the left and, shortly after, back to the right. 

About 180 passengers and crew members were on board. No injuries were reported. 

The July 6 derailment occurred in an area where trains emerge from a tunnel under the Hudson River and pass through a crisscrossing network of tracks before they reach the station platforms. That's the same area where an NJ Transit train derailed April 3, causing five days of disruptions to rail service up and down the corridor between Washington, D.C., and Boston. 

That derailment was blamed on aging wood crossties beneath the tracks that allowed the rails to separate. 

The April 3 derailment, combined with another derailment in March and other track and signal issues, prompted Amtrak to condense repair work scheduled to be performed on nights and weekends over the next few years into two months this summer. Weekday work began July 10. 

The work includes replacing switches in the area where the April and July derailments occurred. 

In a statement to The Associated Press on Wednesday, Amtrak said the July derailment "reinforces our decision to accelerate the infrastructure renewal work in this part of New York Penn Station this summer." It said the repairs will "strengthen operations and restore reliability at North America's busiest rail station." 

Penn Station, owned and operated by Amtrak, accommodates about 1,300 train movements daily. More than a half million people pass through daily on New York City subways and trains run by Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Rail Road. 

Rail riders are in their second week of schedule reductions caused by the work. While the first week went smoothly and partly allayed fears of a commuting "summer of hell" predicted by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the second week has been marred by several train cancellations by NJ Transit because of understaffing. 

According to NJ Transit, that was caused when some engineers exercised their contract rights and took two days to report for work after schedule changes were made. Engineers union officials have blamed a personnel shortage. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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