Cause of Connecticut rail crash eludes investigators

The two Metro North commuter trains. Picture: AP/ Connecticut Post
The two Metro North commuter trains. Picture: AP/ Connecticut Post
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FIVE people remained critically ill yesterday after two commuter trains serving New York City collided in Connecticut during Friday’s evening rush hour.

Sixty ­people were taken to hospital, said Dannel ­Malloy, the state’s governor. About 700 people were on board the Metro-North trains when one heading east from New York City’s Grand Central Station to New Haven derailed about 6:10pm just outside Bridgeport, 20 miles south of its destination, officials said.

The train was hit by a train heading west from New Haven to Grand Central on an adjacent track, Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Aaron Donovan said. Some cars on the second train also derailed as a result of the collision.

Amtrak, which uses the same rails, suspended ­services indefinitely between New York and Boston.

Lola Oliver, 49, a cardiology technician from Bridgeport, was travelling in one of the trains when the crash threw her from her seat. “All I know was I was in the air, ­hitting seats, bouncing around, flying down the aisle and ­finally I came to a stop on one seat. And I just gripped it because I felt the train sliding,” Oliver said. “It happened so fast I had no idea what was going on. All I know is we crashed.”

Oliver was treated in hospital for cuts and bruises and released.

Investigators said they did not know what caused the first train to derail. Malloy said there was no reason to believe it was anything other than an accident. The National Transportation Safety Board was sending a team to investigate.

“We’re most concerned about the injured and ultimately reopening the system,” Malloy said from the scene about three hours after the crash. The governor said most people were not seriously hurt, though one was said be to “very critical”.

The Metro-North Railroad, a commuter line serving the northern suburbs, described it as a “major derailment”.

Malloy said it could take until tomorrow for normal service to be restored on the track.

By late evening, Bridgeport police chief Joseph Gaudett said everybody who needed treatment had been attended to, and authorities were beginning to turn their attention to the cause.