Connecticut rail service returns to normal following train crash
12:39 PM, May 22, 2013
1:38 PM, May 22, 2013
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) -- Regular train service returned to Connecticut on Wednesday, five days after a derailment injured scores of commuters and damaged tracks.
Commuter rail service from Connecticut to New York City, along with Amtrak service between Boston and New York, was back on schedule on one of the nation's oldest and most heavily traveled railways.
Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates Metro-North, said there were no major problems or delays reported.
"Trains are running normally," he said. "We're back at full strength, a full schedule on the New Haven line for the first time since Friday."
The Metro-North crash at rush hour Friday evening injured 72 people, including one who remained in critical condition Tuesday. It snarled commutes for roughly 30,000 people who normally use the train, forcing travelers to navigate a patchwork of cars, trains and buses.
The repairs will require a reduced speed of 30 mph for several days, which officials say is standard for new track installations. Donovan said that was extending the travel time by only a few minutes.
"We recognize the critical importance of both Metro-North Railroad and Amtrak to the regional economy," Metro-North President Howard Permut said Tuesday.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident. Officials have said they are looking at two sections of rail found at the crash scene which appear to have broken apart, to determine if the damage occurred during or before the crash.
Robert Kulat, a spokesman for the Federal Railroad Administration, told the Connecticut Post that Metro-North inspected the tracks on May 15, two days before the accident, and found they were properly aligned, and the wood, steel and other construction materials were in good shape.
Donovan could not confirm the inspection, referring all questions on the investigation to the NTSB.
The tracks have been rebuilt to current Federal Railroad Administration standards using all new materials and underwent rigorous testing, officials said. Railroad officials said the speed of the rebuilding effort was the result of hundreds of skilled people in multiple crafts working around the clock since Saturday night.
Connecticut lawmakers plan hearings about the crash on the rail network they say is in need of extensive improvements.
Members of the General Assembly's Transportation Committee said they have been briefed by state transportation officials over the years about the hefty investment Connecticut needs to make to fully upgrade the commuter rail line, including a couple of 100-year-old bridges that need to be replaced.
Some commuters used a shuttle train that ran between New Haven and Bridgeport, where a bus connection to Stamford circumvented the accident scene, and finally customers boarded a train for New York.