NTSB speeds investigation of Metro-North accidents

The National Transportation Safety Board said it will hold hearings in October to help an investigation into two incidents involving Metro–North that occurred in May – the death of a Metro-North foreman on the tracks near West Haven and the derailment and crash nine days earlier of a commuter train near Bridgeport.

The NTSB earlier had said the investigations into those accidents were likely to take more than a year, drawing criticism from Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and other lawmakers who said the process needed to be speeded up.

Blumenthal said Wednesday that he “welcomed the hearing,” scheduled for held Oct. 22 and 23.

“I hope the report will be completed in the near future, certainly sooner than the 18 months initially projected, “ Blumenthal said in a statement. “Rail users deserve to know exactly what happened and what will be done to prevent such disasters from occurring again.”

On May 17, an eastbound Metro-North passenger train derailed and was struck by a westbound Metro-North passenger train. As a result, 73 passengers, two engineers and a conductor were transported to local hospitals with injuries.

On May 28, a Metro-North track foreman was struck and killed by a Metro-North westbound passenger train in West Haven. The foreman had asked that the section of track he was working on be taken out of service for maintenance, and it was. But a student controller removed the electronic block a little more than an hour later, without giving notice.

In the NTSB’s October hearing, agency commissioners are to hear testimony from several people involved in the crash, including track inspection and maintenance workers.