(Adds quotes, details from investigation)
By Richard Weizel
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. May 18 A fractured segment of
track has been found on the rail line of a Metro-North passenger
train from New York that derailed in Connecticut and struck
another commuter train, injuring more than 70 people,
investigators said on Saturday.
Authorities have ruled out foul play in Friday's collision,
which occurred during the evening rush hour between the towns of
Bridgeport and Fairfield, about 50 miles (80 km) northeast of
New York City.
Further examination is necessary to determine if track
damage found at the site of the accident was a cause or effect
of the train wreck, but that stretch of rail line had undergone
repair work during the past month, officials said.
"We don't yet know whether the fractured train track caused
the accident, or was caused by it," Earl Weener, a board member
for the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, told
reporters at a news conference in Bridgeport.
"We do know that the back end of the eastbound train that
derailed went over that part of the track where there is a
fracture, and that there was repair work done on that stretch of
track within the past 30 days," Weener said.
The segment of fractured rail was being sent for analysis.
The accident involved two trains from the Metro-North
commuter line that runs between New York City and parts of
Connecticut. The wreck occurred when several cars of an
eastbound train headed from New York to New Haven, Connecticut,
left the track and collided with a train coming in the opposite
direction bound for New York's Grand Central Station.
More than 70 passengers and crew members were injured,
officials said. Eight remained hospitalized on Saturday, three
in critical condition, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said.
The collision of the Metro-North trains forced Amtrak to
shut down service indefinitely between New York and Boston.
The governor urged commuters who normally use the line to
find alternative ways to get to work on Monday.
'FORTUNATE THERE WERE NO DEATHS'
NTSB officials arrived at the scene on Saturday to begin
their investigation, which has focused in part on recent
construction and repair work in the vicinity.
"The FBI was involved at the beginning, but has determined,
as have we, that there was no foul play involved," Weener said.
"Frankly, we still don't know what caused the derailment and
collision and will not have any answer to that question any time
soon, certainly not while on site investigating," he said.
Malloy said the train cars that derailed were new and
"designed to the latest standards" for safety and protection of
"To the best of our knowledge, it is the first time that a
car like this has been involved in this kind of incident, and by
all appearances, they responded well," Malloy said.
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut told the news
conference he had come directly from St. Vincent's Medical
Center, where some of the passengers and crew were being
He said he was particularly struck by the courage of one
conductor hurt in the collision, a woman he identified only as
Helen, who despite serious back injuries helped "many of the
people off the train."
"Considering the impact, we are very, very fortunate there
were no deaths," Blumenthal said.
Metro-North is operated by the Metropolitan Transportation
Authority, a New York state agency.
The New York-New Haven line is the busiest rail line in
America and serves 125,000 commuters a day, said Judd Everhart
of the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
(Additional reporting by Karen Brooks in Austin, Texas, and
David Bailey in Minneapolis; Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis;
Editing by Peter Cooney)