NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Telecommuting and carpooling are the recommended options for folks who would normally take the train between New Haven, Connecticut, and New York in the aftermath of a derailment that disrupted train service on one of the busiest tracks in the country.
“There are going to be substantial delays until we can get this line back in full service,” Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said Sunday evening. “Residents should plan for a week’s worth of disruptions.”
And while the governor suggested carpooling as an option, he made it clear that it wasn’t a particularly good one.
“The delays will not be limited to mass transit as more people get behind the wheel to drive and make their own connections,” clogging the roadways, Malloy said.
More than 30,000 passengers travel the rail corridor on a daily basis.
Monday’s commute will be “extremely challenging,” according to Malloy.
Federal investigators are trying to determine what caused Friday’s derailment of a northbound Metro-North train that collided with another Metro-North train that was headed south.
Investigators have ruled out foul play in the crash, which injured more than 70 people.
Cindy Nunes and John Cappiello, spokespeople for Bridgeport Hospital in Connecticut, said three patients were still there Sunday — one person in critical condition and two listed as stable. Two patients remained at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, both in good condition, spokeswoman Lucinda Ames said.
Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner Jim Redeker said the DOT will deploy 150 buses to ferry passengers around the 2,000 feet of bad track.
“The shuttle services will be operating, but it will be very difficult for customers,” he said. “There will be lines, it will take longer and it’s going to be a difficult commute, if that’s your (only) option.”
The governor recommended not commuting at all until the tracks are repaired, telling people to either stay home or to stay in New York for the week, if they can get there.
Amtrak released a statement Sunday night saying that service between Boston and New Haven also would be limited, and “there is no estimate on service restoration.”
Because of the inconvenience, Amtrak said passengers who “have paid but choose not to travel due to this service disruption can receive a refund or a voucher for future travel.”
Rebuilding the tracks
By Sunday afternoon, all the rail cars had been removed from the accident site, Earl Weener of the National Transportation Safety Board said. Two segments of rail in the area of the fracture also had been removed and are being sent to a laboratory for analysis, he said.
None of the cars flipped over when the two trains collided, but many cars were heavily damaged. Some had gaping holes where doors had been. Deep scrape marks could be seen where one train sideswiped the other.
Investigators will look at the trains’ braking performances, speed, wheel and track conditions as well as information from data recorders, Weener said. In addition to the trains, investigators also are examining the actions of the crews.
He said the track could have been broken by the accident or could have been fractured before the trains collided.
This accident involved commuter rail cars built to new codes, he said Sunday.
“This gives us a chance to see how effective the new standards are,” Weener said..
The two tracks will have to be repaired before they can be reopened.
“Our crews will essentially be rebuilding 2,000 feet of damaged track and overhead wires and signal system,” Metro-North Railroad President Howard Permut said in a statement.
‘Absolutely staggering’ damage
The damage to the tracks and several train cars is “absolutely staggering,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who visited the site with other officials over the weekend. Wreckage littered an area of about 200 yards.
“Ribbons of the sides of cars are torn away like ribbons of cloth,” the senator said. “Tons of metal tossed around like toy things. The insides of cars are shattered.”
The two Metro-North passenger trains collided Friday evening in southwestern Connecticut. The train headed from New York City to New Haven derailed around 6:10 p.m. and struck the other train in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Weener said.
Both trains were traveling at about 70 mph immediately before the crash.