Lawmaker demands answers after pair of Metro-North derailments

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N.J. Burkett reports from Grand Central. (WABC)

A local leader is demanding answers after a pair of minor Metro-North derailments caused massive headaches for commuters.

On Wednesday, the 5:19 p.m. train to Wassaic derailed as it was pulling away from Grand Central. Then, nearly six hours later, another train derailed near a White Plains rail yard.

Source believe the initial derailment was caused by a broken rail that snapped after the locomotive passed over. It is not believed to be a pre-existing break.

MTA crews continue to work on the damaged train and track, with the derailed train partially in the tunnel where the incident occurred. Removal operations could last well into the evening, and nine tracks remain out of service.

The 700 to 800 passengers were evacuated safely, but it triggered delays and track changes throughout the evening commute to the suburbs.

On Thursday morning, trains were running 10 to 15 minutes behind schedule, primarily the New Haven line, due to congestion from the derailment.

Still, most commuters appear to be taking it in stride. But Senator Richard Blumenthal wants answers.

"Much more than a minor inconvenience," he said. "This disturbing Metro-North multiple car derailment delays and disrupts travel for countless riders...The derailment, fairly or not, recalls past incidents - renewing concerns about safety and reliability. I will be raising detailed questions about the derailment with Metro-North. I appreciate that the FRA has begun an investigation and has alerted me to the incident."

The MTA promised a normal morning rush hour, and for the most part, they were able to deliver.

"We had to do some fancy footwork in terms of reassigning tracks and combining trains," the MTA's Marjorie Anders said Wednesday. "We're going to be working overnight to get train out of the way, fix the track and, of course, investigate the cause."

It has been an awful year for Metro-North, now under federal oversight after a series of incidents, most notably the fatal 2013 derailment in the Spuyten Duyvil section of the Bronx.
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