information in this report is preliminary and will be supplemented or corrected
during the course of the investigation.
On May 18, 2017,
about 4:56 p.m., eastern daylight time, westbound Metro-North Railroad commuter
train 1373 derailed at milepost 24.55 on main track 3 of the Metro-North
Railroad’s New Haven Line in Rye, New York. Train 1373 originated from
Stamford, Connecticut and was destined for Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan,
New York when 5 of the 12 cars in the consist derailed. Of the 185 passengers
on the train, 14 reported minor injuries. Two crewmembers (train engineer and
conductor) also reported minor injuries.
On May 17-18, 2017,
the temperature was above normal. At the time of the accident, the wind was from
the west at 12 knots, visibility was unrestricted at 10 statute miles, partly
cloudy sky and temperature of 93°F.
The engineer and
conductor of train 1373 went on duty at 6:15 a.m. and made a round trip to
Grand Central Terminal during the morning rush hour. After their interim
release, the train crew met at 4:15 p.m. and received the train equipment at
Stamford Yard. Train 1373 consisted of 12 electrically-powered multiple-unit
passenger cars that included a controlling cab car.
trains per day normally operate over main track 3. However, main track 1 was out
of service so approximately 104 trains per day had been operating on track 3 at
the time of the accident. Normally, the maximum authorized train speed throughout
this segment of track was 60 mph for passenger trains; however, at the time of
the derailment, a temporary speed restriction of
10 mph was in effect.
that at 1:20 p.m., the engineer of Metro North train 1359 reported a possible
track condition on main track 3 between catenary bridges 213 and 214. Two track
inspectors were in their hi-rail vehicle conducting a track inspection for
potential heat related track problems near the area. They proceeded to the
location and found the track was misaligned. They made repairs and, at 2:02 p.m.,
gave the track back to the rail traffic controller for normal operating
speed. About 2:54 p.m., the engineer of Metro
North train 1365 reported a “real nasty kink in the rail” on main track 3
between catenary bridges 214 and 215. The Metro North rail traffic controller,
in coordination with the chief dispatcher, placed a 30-mph speed restriction on
the track at that location until the track could be inspected. At 3:23 p.m.,
the engineer of Metro North train 1367 reported over the radio: “Yeah, that
kink is pretty bad…I went over it doing 15 and I could still feel it pretty
significantly.” The Metro North rail traffic controller lowered the speed
restriction to 15 mph, and the speed restriction limits were changed between catenary
bridges 214 and 216. At 3:51 p.m., a track supervisor arrived at the catenary
bridge 215 location and lowered the speed restriction to 10 mph, due to the
track misalignment. (See figure 1.)
1. Pre-accident photo taken by track foreman, looking
west on track 3 toward catenary bridge 215.
The track supervisor
said that he thought the track was misaligned about 2-inches, but he did not
measure the deviation. He watched about four trains pass over the area, and
said the deviation did not change. At 4:30 p.m., as he was preparing to leave
the area, the track supervisor said Metro North train 1371 passed through
faster than the 10-mph speed restriction. The track supervisor reported the
incident to the rail traffic controller and inspected the track. He said the
alignment did not worsen and departed the area. About one-half hour later, the
rail traffic controller called and told him that the area had worsened. Shortly
thereafter, he was notified that train 1373 derailed.