Boucher Calls for Immediate Scrutiny of Shared Equipment on Train Lines

December 2, 2013

Hartford, CT – State Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) ranking member of the Transportation Committee released the following statement today re: deadly train derailment on Metro North Line in New York.

“I extend my heartfelt condolences to the many families who have lost loved ones in this horrible train incident. I also send my thoughts and prayers to the countless others who are injured and in pain. This deadly incident requires immediate scrutiny and investigation by the highest levels of our government both at the state and federal level.

“Four people lost their lives for reasons unknown right now. Though it has been reported that the track did not appear to be faulty, leaving speed as a possible culprit for the crash – the National Transportation Safety Board will have to determine if this was mechanical failure.

“Still, this latest, and deadliest, example of problems on one the nation’s largest commuter railroad underscores the desperate need for greater oversight and maintenance. It should be noted that the equipment that was involved in Sunday’s derailment is the same equipment that runs on the Danbury, Waterbury and mainlines of Metro-North operations in Connecticut.

“The pictures at the derailment site seem to indicate that several of the cars have red stripes down their side along with our state seal which means that they were actually purchased for use in Connecticut and paid for by the state. They are in a pool of cars that is shared by all three lines of Metro-North. That very same train set could have been operating in Connecticut. If the cause is not found to be related to track problems or human error and instead is related to equipment issues, Connecticut transportation officials need to be vigilant in scrutinizing all the shared equipment that runs in our state.”

“This incident is the second passenger train derailment in six months for Metro-North. On May 17, an eastbound train derailed in Bridgeport and was struck by a westbound train. The crash injured 73 passengers, two engineers and a conductor. Eleven days later, a track foreman was struck and killed by a train in West Haven.

“And in September service on this line between New York City and Connecticut was shut down for days after a high-voltage feeder line failed. There was no backup system in place, a failure that Metro North and Con Edison still have not fully acknowledged nor remediated for customers. Connecticut residents pay 65% of the costs associated with the functioning of Metro North rail lines. Yet, the state’s 60 year contract with Metro North does not expire until 2030 and does not clearly define what costs are associated with repair, maintenance and upgrade of this line.

“Intervention by federal authorities may be required to bring transparency to the proper and safe functioning of this vital rail line. Too many people and businesses depend on these trains every day. They expect to arrive at their destination safely. Metro North has lost a great deal of credibility in running a transportation system that is essential to our region’s economic health.

“I call on NTSB and Federal Transportation officials to thoroughly investigate this train line and hold Metro North accountable for any final determination into this deadly incident.”