Tuesday, October 4, 2016
Feds report that train engineer fled after Maspeth train crash
From the Times Ledger:
A federal probe into a fiery train crash last year faults the railway operator, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D–Flushing) announced Sunday. The crash occurred July 8, 2015, when a freight train operated by New York and Atlantic Railway (NYA) slammed into a tractor-trailer at the railroad crossing at Maspeth Avenue and injured the truck’s driver.
The tractor-trailer was leaving a warehouse on Maspeth Avenue when the train clipped it. The truck’s cab then burst into flames as the train dragged it for nearly 200 feet. The driver jumped out of the cab before his truck caught fire, avoiding serious injury.
The Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) investigation concluded that the locomotive engineer failed to follow NYA’s operating rules and special instructions for the grade-crossing. The FRA found that the conductor’s failure to take any action to bring the train under control contributed to the accident.
The investigation was further complicated by the disappearance of the train’s engineer.
“FRA was not able to interview the engineer involved in the accident as he went missing immediately after the accident,” the FRA’s Focused Safety Review stated. “In the aftermath of the accident, the locomotive engineer left the scene and did not return to the railway. NYA subsequently terminated his employment.”
The FRA was able to interview the train’s conductor, who was cooperative and raised safety concerns regarding whether he had been adequately trained. The FRA identified several safety issues that NYA needs to address, including its failure to provide and document adequate training as testing of locomotive engineers and conductors, failure to issue certificates for the engineer and conductor, faulty record-keeping software, and the need for several actions to improve grade-crossing safety for motor vehicle users.