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Subway Train Derails in Brooklyn in 2nd Such Episode in a Week – The New York Times

Subway Train Derails in Brooklyn in 2nd Such Episode in a Week – The New York Times

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The train, a Manhattan-bound F, went off the tracks in Coney Island on Wednesday afternoon. No injuries were reported.
Ed ShanahanWesley Parnell and
A subway train derailed in Brooklyn on Wednesday afternoon, police and fire officials said. It was the second derailment incident in New York City’s mass-transit system in less than a week.
The train, a Manhattan-bound F, went off the elevated tracks between the West Eighth Street and Neptune Avenue stations in Coney Island shortly before 12:30 p.m., officials said. There were 34 passengers and three crew members on the train, Richard Davey, the president of New York City Transit, said at a news conference. No one was injured in the derailment and the cause was being investigated, officials said.
Mr. Davey said that it was possible the problem occurred because the track was uneven or there was a break in it, though it was too early to say for certain.
“The track needs to be straight in order for a train to run on top of it safely,” he said, though he did not identify a specific problem with the track at the site of the derailment. The tracks had been inspected in November and no issues were flagged at the time, he added. An M.T.A. official said that an issue with the rail was the primary focus of the investigation.
Mr. Davey said that the derailments that occurred last week were not related to the one on Wednesday, and he sought to assure riders that the transit system was safe.
“Derailments do happen. They shouldn’t, but they do from time to time,” he said.
Service on the F line was partly suspended in Brooklyn as a result of the derailment, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the state agency that operates the city’s transit system, said on its website. The authority aims to restore service by the morning rush hour on Thursday, transit officials said. In the meantime, the M.T.A. is running shuttle bus service along the line’s route.
Mr. Davey said the train was approaching the Neptune Avenue station when its emergency braking system was triggered automatically. The train came to a stop, and a crew member got off to see what had happened. Mr. Davey noted that the train was a newer model equipped with monitoring equipment, which could help officials determine the cause of the problem.
Passengers on the stalled train were evacuated in about an hour onto two rescue trains, officials said.
People lingering near the site an hour after the derailment described hearing a loud noise and the sound of debris falling from the tracks.
One passenger, Elisa Gales, who lives near the Stillwell Avenue station in Coney Island, was in the train’s first car when, she said, she felt “a sharp jolt.”
“It just jumped us back into our seat,” Ms. Gales, 61, said. “And then after that, it jumped us back again. And then I was like, ‘Oh, my God.’ I thought in my mind, ‘I hope that’s not a derailment.’”
She said the sound coming over the train’s public address system was so weak that she and other passengers did not understand what had happened. She said she eventually learned that the train’s third and fourth cars had been involved in the derailment.
“We finally figured out that they were going to bring a rescue train,” said Ms. Gales, who explained that she had worked cleaning stations along the F line at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. “And we had to walk across the plank to get onto the rescue train.”
“It’s always something with the F line,” she added.
The episode on Wednesday came six days after a No. 1 train carrying 300 people collided with an out-of-service train on the Upper West Side of Manhattan because of confusion over which train had the right of way. Both trains derailed as a result, and more than two dozen people were injured.
None of the injuries in those derailments, on Jan. 4, were life-threatening, officials said. Full service was not restored on the affected lines — among the most heavily used in the busiest mass-transit system in the United States — for nearly three days. Investigators have indicated that human error was to blame, although it remains unclear who precisely was at fault.
Mr. Davey said the incident on Wednesday was “not nearly as complicated” as last week’s.
That earlier derailments, which occurred just before the afternoon rush hour, took place after vandals tripped the emergency brakes on a No. 1 train and it stalled at 79th Street, transportation officials said at a news conference.
The passengers on the stalled train got off, and the train went out of service and began proceeding slowly to an uptown storage yard with four transit workers aboard, according to three transit officials with knowledge of the investigation. As it neared the 96th Street station, it collided at a slow speed with the other No. 1 train, which was carrying passengers.
Investigators with the M.T.A. and the National Transportation Safety Board are examining the crash. Among the issues being scrutinized are the performance of employees who were working in the trains as well as those in the subway system’s control center, according to safety board officials.
“It’s easy to blame humans,” Jennifer Homendy, the safety board’s chair, said at a news conference when asked if the crash was caused by a person’s mistake. “Human error is always a symptom of a system that needs to be redesigned.”
Jim Mathews, chief executive of the Rail Passengers Association, an advocacy group, said that although it was troubling that several derailments had occurred in such a short time span, the incidents did not necessarily indicate any mismanagement by the M.T.A.
Mr. Mathews noted that millions of people ride the 24-hour system daily, and yet derailments are very rare. “Just think of the massive scale in the number of times trains are traversing over the tracks,” he said.
Daniel Alicea, the supervisor of a crew that was installing an elevator in a nearby building, was at a McDonald’s when the F train derailed on Wednesday. Other crew members were eating lunch near the tracks at the time.
“It was so loud, all the construction workers were out here and they all scurried like roaches,” Mr. Alicea said, pointing to debris on the ground that he said had been knocked loose by the derailment.
“All that fell on the ground,” he said. “Thank God no one was underneath it.”
Cesar Quintero, a construction worker who lays foundations for commercial buildings, was working next to the elevated tracks when the F train derailed. Speaking Spanish, he said he was concerned because his wife takes the No. 1 train to work.
“My wife was going to take that train,” he said of the No. 1 that derailed last week. “She works on 96th Street. She saw the train that was derailed leaving the platform as she was entering the station.”
He added that just two months ago, he had seen transit workers replacing portions of the track where the F train derailed on Wednesday. A piece of metal fell from the tracks and nearly hit a woman, he said.
“It’s unnerving because you want to get home sane and safe, and something like this causes insecurity when you take the trains,” Mr. Quintero said.
Before last week, it had been several years since a subway train derailed while carrying passengers. On Sept. 20, 2020, an express train with 100 people on board came off the tracks near 14th Street in Manhattan. Three passengers sustained minor injuries. The last derailment in which customers were killed occurred in 1991.
Mark Walker contributed reporting.
Ed Shanahan is a rewrite reporter and editor covering breaking news and general assignments on the Metro desk. More about Ed Shanahan
Ana Ley is a Times reporter covering New York City’s mass transit system and the millions of passengers who use it. More about Ana Ley
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