MTA Announces LIRR Derailment Caused by Misaligned Switch

Written by David C. Lester, Editor-in-Chief
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LIRR Train

NEW YORK – A Long Island Rail Road train derailed on August 3 and investigators have determined that an improperly aligned switch was the cause.

Although the switch was not lined properly, the dispatcher board indicated that the switch was properly aligned for the movement of an oncoming train. This was caused by a problem with the wiring in the switch. The derailment occurred in Queens at the Hall Interlocking.

MTA reported that a regular monthly check of the switch was made before the derailment but, because of the wiring problem, dispatchers could not tell that the switch had not realigned properly after it was checked. In a MTA report on the investigation, MTA said this happened “because of a previously unknown vulnerability in the switch’s wiring configuration, which resulted in the train dispatcher’s display showing that the route was properly aligned when it was, in fact, not.”

The interim president of the LIRR and president of Metro-North, Catherine Rinaldi, said the derailment “has exposed a unique and previously unknown localized vulnerability that has been rectified. This incident has prompted us to enhance our switch inspection process to improve the safety of the railroad going forward.”

The derailment injured 13 people, with two of those receiving serious injuries. The train had 8 cars and was carrying 55 people. In addition, at the time of the derailment, the train was going 54 mph.

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