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On Friday, May 17, 2013, at 6:01 p.m. eastern daylight time, eastbound Metro-North passenger train 1548, which had departed Grand Central Terminal, New York, toward New Haven, Connecticut, derailed at milepost (MP) 53.25 from main track 4 of the New Haven line subdivision 7 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and was struck by westbound Metro-North passenger train 1581, which had departed New Haven bound for Grand Central Terminal. In the collision, the forward (F-end) or leading end of a passenger railcar of passenger train 1581 struck the trailing or back end (B-end) of a passenger railcar of passenger train 1548. (See Figure 1.) As a result of the collision, 63 passengers, 2 engineers, and 1 conductor were injured. Metro-North estimated that about 250 passengers were on each train at the time of the accident. The NTSB determined that the probable cause of the derailment was an undetected broken pair of compromise joint bars on the north rail of track 4 on the Metro-North New Haven subdivision at MP 53.25 resulting from: (1) the lack of a comprehensive track maintenance program that prioritized the inspection findings to schedule proper corrective maintenance; (2)the regulatory exemption for high-density commuter railroads from the requirement to traverse the tracks they inspect; and (3) Metro-North’s decisions to defer scheduled track maintenance.
TO METRO-NORTH RAILROAD: Replace the Grade 5 mounting bolts in the M-8 passenger railcar fleet with stronger bolts to ensure that the railcars comply with Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations 238.219.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Open - Initial Response Received
Bridgeport, CT, CT, United States
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
Metro North Railroad (Open - Initial Response Received)
Safety Recommendation History
Metro North Railroad
-From Joseph J. Lhota, Chairman: MNR has worked with Kawasaki Rail Car (KRC) to increase the safety margin of the truck-to car body attachment for the M8 passenger railcars. This has resulted in a modification that will replace the current Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Grade 5 car body center pin fasteners with increased strength fasteners defined as SAE Grade 8. This will increase both the safety margin of the fasteners in the connection and the resulting mechanical joint pre-load of the truck to-car body mechanical c01mection. The enhancements will provide a higher safety margin in the M8 passenger railcar truck-to-car body attachment in an overload condition. This modification is being completed by MNR during scheduled maintenance activities and also by KRC as part of its field modification activities in New Haven, Connecticut. The modifications began in June 2015. As of January 2018, approximately 55% of the fleet (226 railcars) have been upgraded. In light of these actions, we request that recommendation R-15-003 be classified as Closed Acceptable Action."
Metro North Railroad
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged by Congress with investigating every civil aviation accident in the United States and significant accidents in other modes of transportation—railroad, highway, marine, and pipeline. We determine the probable cause of the accidents and issue safety recommendations aimed at preventing future accidents. In addition, we carry out special studies concerning transportation safety and coordinate the resources of the federal government and other organizations to provide assistance to victims and their family members affected by major transportation disasters. We urge the Metro-North Railroad(Metro-North) to take action on the safety recommendation issued in this letter. This recommendation addresses the M-8 passenger railcar body mounting bolts (as installed by the passenger railcar manufacturer).The recommendation is derived from our investigation of the derailment and subsequent collision of two Metro-North passenger trains in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on May17, 2013. As a result of this component of the investigation, we have issued three safety recommendations, of which one is addressed to Metro-North. Information supporting this recommendation is discussed below. The NTSB is vitally interested in these recommendations because they are designed to prevent accidents and save lives. We would appreciate receiving a response from you within 90days, as required by 49United States Code section 1135, detailing the actions you have taken or intend to take to implement them. When replying, please refer to the safety recommendations by number and submit your response electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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