BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — The Metro-North commuter rail line says crews will spend days rebuilding 2,000 feet of track, overhead wires and signals damaged in a derailment and crash in Connecticut.
Metro-North President Howard Permut said Sunday that the two-track electrified railroad must be rebuilt. Crews will work around the clock for several days to make repairs and ensure that newly rebuilt infrastructure operates properly.
Jim Cameron, chairman of a commuter group, the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council, said he’s asked officials in numerous towns to suspend parking rules to accommodate what could be tens of thousands of commuters driving to unaffected train stations.
Seventy-two people were sent to the hospital after the crash Friday evening. Nine remain hospitalized.
The trains damaged in a crash were being removed Sunday.
Aaron Donovan, spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the crash, gave Metro-North the OK to remove the trains. Hundreds of feet of track need to be repaired, he said.
Investigators are looking at a broken section of rail to see if it is connected to the derailment and collision outside Bridgeport.
Donovan compared the loss of service to a “very significant storm.”
Most recently, the Waterbury branch of Metro-North was down immediately after the massive Feb. 9-10 snowstorm that blanketed the Northeast.
Investigators said Saturday that the crash was not the result of foul play, but a fractured section of rail is being studied to determine if it is connected to the accident. National Transportation Safety Board member Earl Weener said the broken rail is of substantial interest to investigators and a portion of the track will be sent to a lab for analysis.
Weener said it’s not clear if the accident caused the fracture or if the rail was broken before the crash. He said he won’t speculate on the cause of the derailment and emphasized the investigation was in its early stages. Officials earlier described devastating damage and said it was fortunate no one was killed.
The crash damaged the tracks and threatened to snarl travel in the Northeast Corridor. The crash also caused Amtrak to suspend service between New York and Boston.
NTSB investigators arrived Saturday and are expected to be on site for seven to 10 days. They will look at the brakes and performance of the trains, the condition of the tracks, crew performance and train signal information, among other things.
The MTA operates the Metro-North Railroad, the second-largest commuter railroad in the nation. The Metro-North main lines – the Hudson, Harlem, and New Haven – run northward from New York City’s Grand Central Terminal into suburban New York and Connecticut.
The last significant train collision involving Metro-North occurred in 1988 when a train engineer was killed in Mount Vernon, N.Y., when one train empty of passengers rear-ended another, railroad officials said.