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December 1, 2013 3:58 pm
Several people were feared dead on Sunday after a train derailment in the north of New York City that is likely to raise fresh questions about the state of the city’s crumbling transport infrastructure.
The derailment, on the Metro-North passenger rail line from Poughkeepsie north of New York into the city’s Grand Central Station, occurred at 7.30am near Spuyten Duyvil Station in the Bronx, the northernmost borough of New York City.
NY Scanner, a Twitter account that monitors emergency service radio transmissions, reported that four passengers were “black tag” – dead – after the crash, which threw several carriages off the line towards the neighbouring Hudson River. But the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the state organisation that runs the New York area’s public transit, declined to give a figure for the number or nature of the casualties.
“At about 7:30 Sunday morning, a southbound train on Metro-North Railroad’s Hudson Line derailed about 100 yards north of the Spuyten Duyvil Station on a large curved section of track,” the MTA said. “Rescuers are ascertaining the extent of injuries, and we will update information throughout the day.”
The New York Fire Department confirmed at the briefing that four people died, according to reporters Tweeting from the briefing.
Sal Cassano, FDNY commissioner, told reporters: “On a workday, fully occupied, it would have been a tremendous disaster.”
The MTA denied reports that some of the train’s seven carriages – which were being pushed by a diesel locomotive at the rear – had gone into the river.
Fire trucks, ambulances and police cars surrounded the vicinity as helicopters flew above.
Don Bristow, a 41-year-old nearby resident, said: “I heard ambulances, fire trucks and helicopters. They blocked off everything. The majority of my building take this train.”
The MTA said there was no connection with an incident in July when a train hauling garbage out of the city derailed to the south of Spuyten Duyvil station.
However, the incident is bound to raise questions about the state of the infrastructure on Metro-North, the US’s fourth-busiest commuter rail system. As well as the garbage train derailment in July, the company suffered serious disruption in May when one of its trains derailed near Fairfield Connecticut and collided with another train. The same line suffered several days’ disruption in September after a power cable failed.
Transport advocates often complain that budgets for the MTA – which runs all New York City’s public transport, the Long Island Railroad and several toll bridges – are inadequate to the tasks it faces. State representatives from outside New York City are often reluctant to meet the organisation’s funding requests.
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