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Cause of Queens Subway Accident Still Unknown

Last week, we posted a blog about the derailment of a Manhattan-bound F train in a Queens subway tunnel. Four people were reported to have serious personal injuries; another 15 had scrapes and bruises. There were around 1,000 passengers on the express train of eight cars, six of which jumped the tracks around 10:30 AM at 65th Street in Woodside.

Although the immediate was determined to be a snapped rail, why the rail broke is still unknown. There was no switch or other change in the rail that might have caused the crash. The section of rail that broke was installed in March after being manufactured in November. Inspectors continue to look at other sections of rail included in that shipment. Repair crews have fixed the 500 feet of rail that was damaged when the train slid off the tracks after it hit the broken rail. Train service was restored on Monday morning.

Although some long-time passengers noted that there seemed to be a lot of breaks in the rails, based on ride quality, MTA officials responded that the number of derailments on MTA trains had decreased significantly in recent years. There were 17 main-line derailments in the past decade. The New York City subway system has 660 miles of track and 8,000 daily trains on weekdays. There are around 5.5 million passengers weekly.

The last subway derailment happened almost a year ago on May 29, 2013. There were no reported injuries and no reported cause. The most recent major subway accident occurred in 1991, when a train derailed at Union Square in Manhattan, killing five and injuring more than 200 passengers. The motorman was later determined to be drunk when the accident occurred.

Source: New York Daily News, "Subway derailment involved rail installed just weeks ago: MTA," May 4, 2014.