Fatal train crash was preventable, senator says

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VALHALLA – No determination has been made as to what caused the crash of a Harlem Line Metro-North train with an SUV at a railroad crossing in Valhalla Tuesday evening, but US Senator Richard Blumenthal (D, CT) said on Wednesday the accident was “preventable.”
Blumenthal and Senator Charles Schumer (D, NY) said they are working with the NTSB, Federal Railway Agency and MTA to get to the bottom of the crash that killed six people and injured several others.
Blumenthal said there needs to be a “complete and thorough” overhaul of FRA rules, particularly in light of past Metro-North incidents including the Bronx derailment over a year ago that claimed four lives and injured 60 passengers.
“This kind of horrific, terrible crash was preventable,” Blumenthal said.  “That’s the lesson here. It was preventable with the right equipment, functioning properly and the right kind of behavior on the part of either the driver of the car, the driver of the train or others involved.”
No one is casting blame concerning the most recent incident as the investigation has just commenced, but officials said the SUV was on the railroad tracks with the crossing gate apparently resting on it.
The train approached and rammed into the vehicle, killing the driver and five people on the train. The third rail on the tracks was torn up and pierced through the train car.
For people who had loved ones who may have been affected by the accident, Metro-North has established a family assistance center at the Office of the Westchester County Medical Examiner, 10 Dana Road, Valhalla.  Information also is available at 1-800-METRO-INFO (800-638-7646).
Harlem Line service resumed this morning for the first time since the collision. Customers should expect delays as trains will have to slow down as they pass through the work zone at the site of the accident.