MTA Metro-North Railroad resumed full service on the Harlem Line this morning for the first time since Tuesday night’s deadly collision between a passenger train and a sports utility vehicle (SUV) in Westchester County, N.Y., near Valhalla Station.
The Harlem Line train left Grand Central Terminal at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday and later approached the SUV, which had stopped on the track at a grade crossing. The train struck the vehicle, causing an explosion and fire that consumed the vehicle and the train’s first car. The third rail of the track came up due to the explosion and pierced the first car. Six people died, including the SUV driver.
The incident, which had forced Metro-North to suspend service between Pleasantville and North White Plains while investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigated the scene, is being described as the worst crash in Metro-North’s history.
In December 2013, a Metro-North train derailed near Spuyten Duyvil Station in the Bronx, causing four passenger fatalities and 61 injuries. At the time, it was the deadliest train accident in New York City since 1991 and the first Metro-North accident that resulted in deaths.
Between May 2013 and March 2014, Metro-North experienced five accidents that caused six fatalities and 126 injuries, prompting the NTSB to launch a special investigation.
“[The] tragic collision of an SUV and a Metro-North commuter train highlights the critical need for all drivers to use caution at every highway-rail grade crossing,” said Operation Lifesaver President Joyce Rose in a prepared statement, noting that in the United States, a vehicle or person is hit by a train every three hours. “This incident illustrates all too well the devastating results that vehicle-train crashes at highway-rail grade crossings can have on families and communities throughout the United States.”
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is calling on Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Prendergast to “quickly” begin sleep disorder-testing of Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR) engineers.
Schumer stated late last week that MTA should not wait for a deadly accident before implementing a program to test engineers for sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. While MTA developed such a program for its New York City Transit train operators after a light-rail accident in Boston in 2008, and for its Metro-North Railroad engineers after a fatal accident in December 2013, MTA has not yet developed a comparable testing plan for LIRR, Schumer said in a press release.
The National Transportation Safety Board recommended that the Federal Railroad Administration require all railroads to screen for and treat sleep apnea more than a decade ago, the senator noted.
“There should be no delay in starting a pilot program for testing LIRR engineers who may suffer from obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, which could put thousands of daily commuters at risk if undetected,” Schumer said. He made his request in a letter sent to Prendergast last week.
The senator praised Metro-North for moving forward with its plan to screen 410 engineers and undergo an initial screening for sleep apnea. Engineers recommended for additional screening will undergo more testing, and if needed, will be referred to sleep specialists for additional treatment.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) awarded a $404.8 million contract for the construction of the future Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) concourse at Grand Central Terminal in New York City.
The contract was awarded to GCT Constructors JV, a joint venture between Schiavone Construction Co. and John P. Picone Inc. The contract, which with options could increase to $428.9 million, was granted after competitive bids were received from nine other firms.
Funding for the contract will come from a federal grant and local funds, MTA officials said in a press release.
Under the contract, workers will build the architectural, structural, mechanical and electrical facilities, and escalators and elevators that will comprise LIRR’s future 375,000-square-foot passenger train concourse and related ventilation plants at 44th and 50th Streets.
Work in the concourse will include the construction of 17 deep escalators at 45th, 46th, 47th and 48th streets, and the installation of elevators connecting the LIRR passenger concourse to the station caverns 140 feet below Park Avenue.
The contract includes major civil work to create passenger connections from the new LIRR concourse up to Grand Central’s Lower Level Dining Concourse, Grand Central’s Biltmore Room on the Upper Level, the 47th Street Cross Passageway and 45th Street cross passageway.