BY NOREEN O’DONNELL
Mon Dec 2, 2013
(Reuters) – Commuters from New York City’s northern suburbs braced for travel delays on Monday morning following a seven-car train derailment that killed four people and injured 11 critically.
A portion of a Metro-North Railroad line between the Bronx and part of Westchester County could be closed for a week or more after the accident on Sunday, in which a Manhattan-bound commuter train ran off the tracks while rounding a sharp curve in the Bronx.
Service was suspended on the railroad’s Hudson line, which serves 26,000 on an average weekday, between the village of Tarrytown and Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal, according to state’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the parent company of Metro-North.
The MTA was providing bus service as an alternative, and urged Westchester County residents to use its Harlem line.
“I think it’s fair to say that tomorrow people who use this line should plan on a long commute or plan on using the Harlem line,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
A team from the National Transportation Safety Board arrived in New York City on Sunday and said its investigation would look at track conditions and the train’s mechanical equipment. The board will also explore any link between Sunday’s accident and a freight train derailment in the same vicinity in July.
The crash happened at 7:20 a.m. about 100 yards (meters) north of Metro North’s Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx, in a wooded area where the Hudson and Harlem rivers meet. One car was lying toppled very near the water.
“That particular piece of track is problematic,” Cuomo told MSNBC on Sunday. “The trains go from about 70 miles per hour down to about 30 miles per hour.”
But he added: “The trains negotiate that turn dozens of times all day long, so there has to be something else here.”
Late on Sunday afternoon, travelers at Grand Central terminal who had come to New York for the Thanksgiving holiday were directed to message boards for alternative routes.
Dominique Jefferson, 18, and Sarah Baermann, 19, two first-year cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, were planning an alternate route back to school.
The women, who had been visiting Baermann’s family on Long Island, learned of the accident in a phone call from Jefferson’s father, a U.S. Army officer stationed in Kuwait.
“He was watching the news, I guess,” Jefferson said. “He likes to make sure I’m safe even though he’s all the way over there.”
Debbie Bennett, a 47-year-old bookkeeper in New York City with her daughter and her daughter’s friend to attend a show at Radio City Music Hall, said her trip home would be affected by the accident.”It makes you think twice about getting on a train,” she said.
(Reporting by Noreen O’Donnell; Editing by Edith Honan)