Exclusive: After derailment, MTA still in violation of own safety regulations

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N.J. Burkett has exclusive details on the MTA violating their own safety protocols.

Eyewitness News has uncovered more safety issues at the site of the subway derailment in Harlem, as well as in other stations.

Even after the accident, the MTA is still in violation of its own safety directive, storing rails and other materials along subway tracks.

In some of the busiest stations on the New York City transit system, entire sections of track lying in the rail bed are in plain sight. And every few minutes, subway trains roll right over them.

Rails stored alongside the platforms are in direct violation of the MTA's own safety protocol. According to a six-page bulletin obtained by Eyewitness News, equipment "shall not be stored on station tracks," and specifically, "no spare rails shall be left in the trackway in any station area."

Spare rails are marked with yellow paint, and we found several of them at 42nd Street, Columbus Circle and in Harlem, the very same station where an unsecured rail triggered the derailment that caused major damage and left dozens of passengers injured.

City College professor Robert Paaswell ran the Chicago transit system.

"What you have is work that's being done, and there are standard operating procedures and there are rule," he said. "And the rules apparently weren't being followed."

Paaswell said rails and equipment are routinely stored in subway tunnels for quick repairs, and the regulation is intended to prevent a derailment inside a station.

"If there's anything that could cause a hazard or potential for derailment or a train rocking or something, you don't want it done where people congregate," he said.

But we found heaps of steel plates scattered across the tracks at 59th Street and some rails that appeared unsecured as one train after another rolled through the station.

"The protocol for storage of scrap material and replacement rails is dictated by many factors," MTA's spokesperson Beth DeFalco said. "This is precisely why we rely on track supervisors and their experience to ensure all parts are properly stored."

It was two supervisors who were blamed for failing to secure the section of rail that caused the derailment in Harlem.

"These are decisions that are usually made for the sake of expediency and the sake of saving money," Paaswell said.

There was no comment from the union president, but Eyewitness News has learned that hundreds of track workers are being held over Thursday night to do a series of repairs in the tunnels and stations.
Related Topics:
trafficsubwaymtaderailmenttrain derailmenttrain accidentNew York CityHarlem (Central)
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