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2 MTA Supervisors Suspended Without Pay Over Harlem Subway Derailment

Service on the four subway lines affected by the derailment had resumed by Wednesday morning

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

Two MTA supervisors have been suspended over Tuesday's subway derailment in Harlem, a collision that forced hundreds of panicked riders to flee through darkened tunnels and crippled the transit system for the day.

The development comes hours after MTA officials said the derailment outside the 125th Street station was caused by human error -- specifically an "improperly secured piece of replacement rail" that was stored on the tracks.

Beth DeFalco, an MTA spokeswoman, said in a statement that the two supervisors who had been suspended were responsible for overseeing the track work. They are suspended without pay pending a formal review process. 

[NATL-NY] In Pictures: Panic on the Subway as Smoke Fills Station

"Storing equipment in between tracks is a common practice employed by railroads across the country to accelerate rail repairs," the MTA said in a statement late Tuesday. "The key to this being an effective and safe practice is making sure that the extra equipment is properly bolted down, which does not appear to have happened in this case."

The MTA said crews are inspecting "every inch of rail" to ensure that every replacement part "is properly stored and secured." 

Union chief John Samuelsen said at a Wednesday afternoon news briefing that MTA policy and protocol should also be reviewed. For example, officials should look at whether the hammer and spike system in place to secure replacement rail is sufficient to ensure safety, he said. 

Samuelsen also said maintenance crews are stretched thin "moreso than any time in 25 years," and that additional resources need to be poured into maintenance immediately.

The subway derailment is the latest in a series of frustrating infrastructure issues, and now the new man in charge, MTA chair Joe Lhota, is taking tough questions about it. Andrew Siff reports.

Meanwhile, service had resumed on the four subway lines affected by Tuesday's derailment by about 9:15 a.m. Wednesday, less than 24 hours after the accident that injured 34 people. About half of the victims were taken to hospitals while others were assessed at the scene; all injuries were minor.

A subway derailment and power outage near the 125th Street station in Harlem suspended service on multiple train lines Tuesday, stranding terrified riders in darkened, smoke-filled cars for two hours in some cases. Jen Maxfield reports.

Photos posted to social media show passengers walking along the tracks in a dark subway tunnel, using their phone flashlights as a guide. Firefighters are seen illuminating the way. The MTA urged stranded riders on other trains not to get off their subways and to wait for directions from crew.

A train derailment threw commuters into darkness on the subway in Harlem Tuesday morning, prompting an evacuation. Jen Maxfield reports.

The derailment caused significant damage to the track, switch system and tunnel, dramatic photos released by the union showed. 

Gov. Cuomo called the derailment "an unacceptable manifestation of the system's current state."

"It is my expectation that with new leadership brought by Joe Lhota, the MTA will address the fundamental issues plaguing the transit system and overhaul the organizational structure of the MTA," Cuomo said.

Pregnant women, children and families were the first rescued by FDNY from a train trapped underground after a train derailment Tuesday morning.

The derailment comes amid a series of breakdowns, signal failures and other issues that have left straphangers at their breaking point. On Monday, the subway rider whose horrifying account of being stuck on a sweltering, powerless train earlier this month went viral held a news briefing to demand the MTA outline an evacuation procedure for riders who may get stranded in the future.

It also comes less than two weeks before the start of Amtrak's summer-long work to repair aging infrastructure at New York Penn Station, a project that is expected to increase subway volume as commuters seek alternatives.

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