Thursday, April 24, 2014

Commuters confident, but want more safeguards

By Andy Gross
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Last week’s crash was at the back of commuters’ minds after service resumed at the reopened Spuyten Duyvil station.

The most difficult aspect of Monday’s commute for riders of the Metro-North train from Spuyten Duyvil to Grand Central station was navigating the icy roads, side streets and steps leading down to the train station.

Eight days after an inbound Metro-North train derailed at the confluence of the Hudson and Harlem Rivers west of the station, killing four people and injuring scores of others, it was business as usual with no significant delays despite cold and inclement weather.

The accident not withstanding, commuters last Monday said they were confident in the Metro-North line.

However, they also said additional safety precautions were needed.

“I definitely have confidence in the line,” said Jesse Hirsch of Riverdale. “Maybe some of the safety features should be more automated like they do on the subways.”

Riverdale resident Alan Aranoff suggested an external alarm system that would further guarantee riders’ safety, though he said, “I feel safe, as much as you can in a mechanical system.”

At the request of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the MTA has upgraded safety measures. According to MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast and information from the MTA website, signal crews have installed new protections at the site of the fatal derailment, which will warn train engineers of the approaching speed reduction and automatically apply the trains’ emergency brakes if speed is not lowered to the 30 miles per hour maximum along the curve.

The signal improvement was done simultaneously and in coordination with work to restore shredded tracks, power and signal systems following the derailment.

All safety upgrades were expected to be in effect this week, according to the MTA.

MTA spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said work to repair tracks one, two and four, which sustained about 800 feet of serious damage, was scheduled to be complete by this past Sunday.

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