June 22, 2024

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A subway train derails in Brooklyn in the second such episode in a week

A subway train derails in Brooklyn in the second such episode in a week

A subway train derailed in Brooklyn on Wednesday afternoon, police and fire officials said. It was the second derailment on New York City's mass transit system in less than a week.

The train, a Manhattan-bound F, derailed between the West Eighth Street and Neptune Avenue stations in Coney Island shortly before 12:30 p.m., officials said. Richard Davey, president of New York City Transit, said in a press conference that the train had 34 passengers and three crew members. Officials said no one was injured in the accident and the cause is being investigated.

Mr Davey said one of the train's wheels had derailed and investigators were focusing on that as they looked into what caused the train to derail.

“The track has to be straight so the train can run over it safely,” he said, though he did not identify a specific track problem at the site of the derailment. He added that the tracks were inspected in November and no problems were reported at that time.

Mr Davey said last week's derailments were not related to Wednesday's incident, and he sought to reassure commuters that the transport system was safe.

“Distractions do happen. They shouldn't, but they do from time to time.”

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the government agency that runs the city's transportation system, said on its website that service on the F line was partially halted in Brooklyn as a result of the train derailment. Transportation officials said the authority aims to restore service by Thursday morning rush hour. Meanwhile, the MTA operates shuttle bus service along the line's route.

Mr Davey said the train was approaching Neptune Avenue station when the emergency braking system was automatically activated. The train stopped and a crew member got off to see what had happened. Mr Davey noted that the train is a newer model equipped with monitoring equipment, which could help officials determine the cause of the problem.

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Officials said that the passengers of the stopped train were evacuated within about an hour to two rescue trains.

People who remained near the site an hour after the derailment described hearing a loud noise and the sound of debris falling from the tracks.

One passenger, Elissa Giles, who lives near the Stillwell Avenue station in Coney Island, was in the train's first car when she felt a “sharp jolt,” she said.

“It put us back in our seat,” Ms. Giles, 61, said. “And then we jumped back. Then I said, 'Oh my God.' I thought, 'I hope this isn't 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 third and fourth train cars were involved in the derailment.

“We finally found out they were going to bring a rescue train,” said Ms. Giles, who explained that she worked cleaning stations along the F Line at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We had to walk across the plank to get to the rescue train.”

“It's always something with an F-line,” she added.

Wednesday's accident came six days after a No. 1 train carrying 300 people collided with an out-of-service train on Manhattan's Upper West Side due to confusion over which train had the right of way. As a result, the two trains derailed and more than twenty people were injured.

Officials said none of the injuries caused by the Jan. 4 train derailment were life-threatening. Full service on the affected lines, among the most frequently used lines in the busiest mass transit system in the United States, was not restored for about three days. Investigators have pointed to human error as the cause, although it remains unclear who specifically is at fault.

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Mr Davey said Wednesday's incident was “not as complex” as last week's incident.

These earlier derailments, which occurred just before afternoon rush hour, occurred after vandals disabled the emergency brakes on the No. 1 train and it stopped at 79th Street, transit officials said at a news conference.

Passengers disembarked on the stopped train, and the train exited service and began moving slowly into an uptown storage yard with four transit workers aboard, according to three transportation officials familiar with the investigation. As it approached the 96th Street station, it collided at a slow speed with another train, No. 1, which was carrying passengers.

Investigators from the MTA and the National Transportation Safety Board are examining the crash. Among the issues being examined is the performance of employees who were working on the trains as well as those working in the subway system's control center, according to safety board officials.

“It's easy to blame humans,” Jennifer Homendy, chair of the safety board, said at a news conference when asked if the accident was caused by a human error. “Human error is always a symptom of a system that needs to be redesigned.”

Daniel Alicia, a supervisor for a crew who was installing an elevator in a nearby building, was at a McDonald's restaurant when the F train derailed Wednesday. Other crew members were having lunch near the tracks at the time.

“It was so loud, all the construction workers were here and they all scurried like cockroaches,” Mr. Alicia said, pointing to the debris on the ground that he said had derailed the track.

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He said: Then it all fell to the ground. “Thank God there was no one under 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 worried because his wife was taking the No. 1 train to work.

“My wife was going to take that train,” he said of the No. 1 train that derailed last week. “She works on 96th Street. She saw the derailed train leaving the platform as she was entering the station.

He added that just two months ago, he saw transit workers replacing parts of the track where the F train derailed on Wednesday. He said that a piece of metal fell from the track and almost hit a woman.

“It's concerning because you want to go home sane and safe, and something like this creates insecurity when you're riding trains,” Quintero said.

Before last week, it had been several years since a subway train derailed while carrying passengers. On September 20, 2020, an express train carrying 100 people derailed near 14th Street in Manhattan. Three passengers suffered minor injuries.