New York City

MTA Removes Hazards After I-Team Reveals Unsecured Rail Parts

The cleanup comes three days after a Harlem A train derailed because a piece of unsecured spared track was improperly stored

What to Know

  • Preliminary investigation shows Tuesday's subway train derailment was caused by "an improperly secured piece of replacement rail," MTA says
  • At least 34 people had injuries including smoke inhalation, though all were expected to be OK, fire officials said
  • Photos posted to social media show passengers walking along the tracks in a dark subway tunnel, using their phone flashlights as a guide

Exclusive video obtained by the I-Team shows MTA workers cleaning up dangerous, unsecured rail equipment Thursday, a day after an I-Team report identified multiple subway lines with loose spare parts scattered on their tracks. 

The cleanup effort comes three days after a Harlem A train derailed because a piece of unsecured, spare track was improperly stored between the rails of the 125th Street station. 

After the derailment, which left 34 people with minor injuries, MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said he ordered inspections of "every inch" of the subway system to identify loose equipment that doesn't belong between the rails. Despite that, the agency would not comment on whether the I-Team's findings represent safety hazards. 

"[T]he protocol for storage of scrap material and replacement rails is dictated by many factors - track type, location, and the size of the part are just a few factors," MTA spokeswoman Beth DeFalco wrote in an email to the I-Team.

DeFalco declined to answer questions about specific subway stations where the I-Team found unsecured equipment, including: 

  • a 2-foot piece of rail next to the tracks at the 116th Street station on the 6 line 
  • a 6-foot piece of rail between the tracks on the F line at the West Fourth Street station 
  • a 3-foot piece of metal straddling the trough between tracks on the 6 line at the 68th Street station 

Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz, a Bronx Democrat, said straphangers deserve to know if the MTA considers these loose pieces of metal to be dangerous so they can report similar problems if they see them. 

"The public has a right to know whether their subways are safe," Dinowitz told the I-Team. "I think people have a right to be concerned after what happened just a few days ago."

Although Gov. Cuomo has called for consolidating his own power over the MTA by increasing his number of appointees to the MTA Board, Cuomo's office also declined to answer emailed questions about the multiple examples of loose spare parts littering subway tracks. 

"I would refer you to the MTA on these questions," Cuomo spokesman Jon Weinstein wrote in an email. 

Though MTA brass declined to characterize the I-Team's findings as violations of protocol, track workers at the West Fourth Street station could be seen Thursday afternoon removing some of the same kinds of metal the I-Team discovered and notified the MTA about the day before. 

"It's pretty scary. Something like that shouldn't just be left there," said Robert Conte, a Queens straphanger. "The fact of what happened the other day with the A Train being derailed, right now that should have been cleaned up like immediately."

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