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Train Derailment Exposes Deeper Infrastructure Problem

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Upper Manhattanites have faced an unprecedented week with three major unrelated crisis' that tested emergency services and first responders and have even the most resilient New Yorker’s, known for their steely nerves, feeling somewhat jittery.

The week began with widespread transportation disruption. Tuesday morning, two cars of the "A" train, an express train service heading downtown toward midtown’s 59th street station jumped the tracks nearing the 125th street station and slammed full speed into the subway tunnel wall.

Morning commuters were quick to post pictures and assessments of the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) presence and rescue. About 34 straphangers were injured in the derailment; 17 sent to local hospitals with minor injuries.

Commuters described the scene as chaotic, with enough electrical sparks to cause the fear of an explosion, heavy thick smoke, and the sharp jarring and jolting with passengers after the crash screaming and trying to quickly determine how to achieve a safe evacuation. MTA officials were quick to respond and commuters walked out through the tunnels.

The force of the crash caused the carriage of the subway car to become dislodged from the chassis leaving the steel rims and undercarriage of the subway car exposed.  

The derailment snapped service like a single branch in an ice storm, with outages affecting the greater "A" and "C" lines which services Manhattan and Queens. Train service on the Express "A" line was restored by Tuesday evening with the "C" line remaining out while MTA workers remove the derailed cars and assess damages.

Photos: More than 100 Passengers Injured In Brooklyn LIRR Commuter Train Derailment

The Manhattan subway system is clearly antiquated, with fares increasing regularly and service, declining as frequently. As it is the most inexpensive system of travel through the maze of boroughs, morning commuters find the subway cars at capacity and often overloaded, to the point of danger.

MTA officials have indicated more than 200 feet of track was damaged in Tuesday’s derailment. Additional track damage at Penn Station, which is a central rail station for more than nine subway lines, Amtrak, lite rail commuter and New Jersey rail transportation servicing 1200 trains daily is facing additional repairs and some of the more than 600,000 people passing through the West 34th street mid-town station each day will be forced to find alternative transportation and access to the Big Apple as track repair work is planned beginning July 10, 2017.

Eastern Seaboard Recovers after Apocalyptic Hurricane

The subway system, over the past five years has seen its share of battering beginning with the apocalyptic flooding from Superstorm Sandy in 2012 which filled tunnels with storm surge and salt water. The South Ferry station, which has been under repair since has finally reached completion with a price tag of more than $350MM.

With a good portion of the 840 miles of track infrastructure over 100 years old, and some section over 200 years old, the derailments and accidents will continue to occur in greater frequency. The tunnel signal system and the above ground signal mechanisms are rarely checked, until there is a system failure.

The combination of equipment, old and aged infrastructure and greater usage are creating the perfect equation for a major MTA failure resulting in mass casualty and fatalities. 

 

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