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Amtrak-Acela Train Crash

Mar 27, 2017

Another Train Crash In New York Reveals Train Safety Issues Continue

Another Train Crash In New York Reveals Safety Issue

In yet another example of train safety issues and accidents, an Amtrak train leaving Manhattan's Penn Station during a morning rush hour recently hit a New Jersey Transit train.

The Acela Express Train 2151 from Boston, Massachusetts was pulling out of Penn Station to Washington DC at the same time that Amtrak had what it described as a minor derailment while moving at a slow speed," according to CBSNewYork. The wheel of the train slipped off the tracks, changing the space between trains, leading to the Acela Express sideswiping a NJ Transit train in the adjoining lane, according to CBS2.

"We were just pulling into the station, not going very fast and I guess another train that was leaving hit us really hard and it basically sideswiped us," one passenger told 1010 WINS. A passenger who described the incident as horrifying said, "I was looking at my phone and I felt a giant explosion next to my head, and my window caved in…. Thankfully, it didn't hit my head." He added that, "In the millisecond after that, this other train departing Penn Station raked the side of our train, popping in all the windows and knocking doors ajar and ripping metal off our car."

According the Amtrak report, there were 248 passengers and crew on board the Acela train at the time of the crash. The train was still near the platform and, Amtrak indicated that they were all able to safely leave the train; however, the Office of Emergency Management indicated that three Amtrak passengers suffered minor injuries. A man was carried out of the Acela club on a stretcher; but Amtrak would not confirm if his were among the three injuries reported according to CBSNewYork.

A woman from Miami, Florida who was on the train behind the train that derailed she said the crash brought back traumatic memories. "I was scared and praying that everything will come out OK," she said. A passenger on the way to Manhattan at the time of the derailment said, "I had to get off in Newark, take the PATH to the World Trade Center, then take a subway from the World Trade Center back to here." She stood, waiting for two hours at Penn Station. "Trains are garbage," one rider said. "What can I say?" according to CBS2.

Other trains coming into Penn Station had to reverse on the tracks and find another way into the station. A number of stairs leading to several tracks had to be taped off by the police while the Federal Railroad Association examined the trains and track in an attempt to determine what went wrong.

The Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) was impacted, as well, according to CBS2's Scott Rapoport. The LIRR urged riders to leave the city before 4:00 p.m. or after 8:00 p.m. One commuter told CBS2's Scott Rapoport. "It's going to be a crowded, packed train…. I probably won't get a seat. I'm going to be standing wall to wall." The LIRR experienced a 50 percent reduction in available departure tracks, which led to the cancellation of 29 evening rush hour trains. The cause of the derailment remains under investigation. CBS2 was waiting for answers on the specific Acela train that had the accident such as how old it was, when it was last serviced, and how long the trains last.

Although the incident may have appeared minor, City College of New York civil engineering professor Robert "Buzz" Paaswell told CBS2's Tracee Carrasco that there is no such thing as a minor derailment. "Right now the question mark is about why did it derail—especially in Penn Station?" Paaswell said various issues might have caused the derailment. "There could have been something wrong with the wheels on the train that maintenance didn't catch, or maybe something happened to an axle, or a wheel might have gotten loose — these are all very tentative." Paaswell said it is important to look at the train; however, the infrastructure at Penn Station maybe the bigger issue. "It's a major transportation hub. It needs more tender loving care," he noted. "In the end, what you need is a well-maintained and well-operating system and that takes money."

Parker Waichman LLP is a national law firm with decades of experience representing individuals who have suffered injuries do to various types of accidents and is currently investigating potential lawsuits on behalf of train riders and workers who were injured due to train crashes.

Two Additional Train Accidents in Recent Months

Two Additional Train Accidents in Recent Months

In January, an LIRR train derailed during the morning rush hour injuring over 100 people. The train's three-member crew, which included the engineer, was treated for minor injuries.

The train, traveling from Queens, New York to Brooklyn, New York derailed in Brooklyn, according to federal investigators, who pointed out that the LIRR train was traveling at more than twice the speed limit when it crashed into a train station. This was the second crash involving a LIRR train in under three months. Both crashes led to injuries. The October 2016 derailment near New Hyde Park involved 30 injuries, according to a Newsday report.

The train that crashed in January 2017 was traveling at more than 10 miles per hour when it crashed into the end of the tracks at the Atlantic Terminal where the speed limit there is five miles per hour, according to The New York Times. Fire Department of New York (FDNY) Deputy Assistant Chief Dan Donoghue reported that the train's wheels "lifted up," at which point the train crashed through "a small room in the area that was at the end of the track."

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said that the six-car electric train originated in Far Rockaway, Queens. The LIRR indicated that the train was carrying approximately 430 passengers, Newsday reported. "The train came in and hit the so-called bumping block and went by it for a few feet," Governor Cuomo said. The train then struck a room beyond the track, causing the train's first two cars to derail, The New York Times reported.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman Thomas Prendergast explained that, when approaching the end of a line, it would have been "primarily the locomotive engineer's responsibility to stop the train," Newsday reported.

Ted Turpin, an investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said that the engineer operating the LIRR train told investigators he was unable to remember the crash. "He does recall entering into the station and controlling the speed of the train," Turpin said at a news conference. "But then the next thing he realized was after the collision." Turpin noted that man, 50, began working as an engineer at the LIRR in 1999. He was close to the end of his shift when the train crashed, according to The New York Times.

Turpin noted that a safety technology known as positive train control was not in place on the tracks, or mandated in train terminals, at the time of the crash. The technology could have potentially slowed the train and NTSB officials have long called for railroads to install the system to help ensure train accidents are avoided, The New York Times reported.

Questions about Filing a LIRR Accident Lawsuit If you or someone you know is interested in filing a lawsuit over injuries sustained in a train accident, please contact one of our personal injury attorneys today. Parker Waichman offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).

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