Source: USA TODAY
Thousands of commuters will have to find another way to work Monday following a derailment on Metro-North’s Hudson Line that left four people dead and dozens more injured.
“I think it’s fair to say that tomorrow, people who use this line should plan on a long commute or plan on using the Harlem line,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference Sunday.
Earl Weener, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board, said at the news conference that the agency expects to be investigating at the scene of the derailment for a week to 10 days. After documenting the condition of the cars and other components of the scene, “We will then turn the rail over to Metro North who will then … get the line back in operation.”
It was unclear when that would be, leaving potentially thousands of commuters to ponder how they would get in and out of New York City at the start of the work week.
Mark Gausepohl, an architect who lives in Ossining, 20 miles north of the derailment, and works in Manhattan, said that if the wreck isn’t cleared by Monday morning, he’ll have to drive to another train line to get to work. That would add at least 20 minutes each way to his 45-minute commute to Manhattan’s Grand Central Station.
He said Metro-North service is “generally reliable,” but he was concerned that there have been two other derailments this year. “It’s troubling that Metro-North is having these problems,” he said. “Either it’s a bad coincidence or a sign of a weakening infrastructure.”
Mary Kelly, who lives in Peekskill, 30 miles north of the derailment, and works as an office manager in Manhattan, said that if the tracks aren’t cleared, her morning commute may be about an hour longer if she can take the train only as far south as Tarrytown, then take a bus to another train line.
“You know, I used to get annoyed when the train was late,” she says, “I never thought it would crash and kill people.”
The Hudson Line is the least busy of the three Metro-North train lines that carry passengers into Grand Central Station. Still, on a weekday, it ferries thousands of passengers, many of whom trek into New York City for work but call the more affordable suburbs to the north home, said Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
On Sunday, service on the other two Metro-North Lines that head into midtown Manhattan were not disrupted by the accident.
“The service is normal on both of those lines, and I haven’t seen any reports of delays as a result of this derailment,” Donovan said.
Amtrak, which shares tracks with the crippled Hudson Line, briefly suspended its service between New York City and Albany, but it resumed service shortly after 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
“With a lot of people trying to get home after the Thanksgiving holiday, the trains we were scheduled to operate were almost all sold out, so you’re talking about thousands of people looking to travel on Amtrak,” said Amtrak spokesman Clifford Cole.
Metro-North began running bus service on Sunday for stranded passengers, allowing them to take a bus from Tarrytown, on the Hudson Line, to White Plains, where they could pick up a Harlem Line train headed to New York City.
Those who would have caught Hudson trains further down the line, such as near Yankee Stadium, were encouraged to hop on the Harlem Line instead or to use the subway or local bus service to travel into Manhattan.
The train that derailed on Sunday was carrying between 100 and 150 passengers, Donovan said, “people hoping to enjoy the day in the city” along with those who may have been visiting family in the Hudson Valley for Thanksgiving and were heading back home.
During the week, the Hudson line ferries suburban commuters traveling from as far north as Poughkeepsie to their jobs in Manhattan, as well as those doing a reverse commute from New York City to jobs in the Hudson Valley.
“If this had been a work day, if this was in the middle of the week, you would have had hundreds and hundreds of people on that train,” New York Gov. Cuomo told CNN. “So it could have been much much worse.”
Contributing: Bob Minzesheimer