Metro-North, Amtrak back to normal
New Haven - Train service from New York to Boston was back on schedule Wednesday on one of the nation's oldest and most heavily traveled railways, five days after a derailment in Connecticut injured scores of commuters and damaged tracks.
Commuter rail service from Connecticut to New York City returned to normal, along with Amtrak service between Boston and New York.
"I'm just very happy that it's back," said Danielle Martin, a 34-year-old legal secretary whose commute from Bridgeport to Stamford had grown an hour longer on shuttle buses while the tracks were repaired.
Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates Metro-North, said no major problems or delays were reported.
"Trains are running normally," he said. "We're back at full strength, a full schedule on the New Haven line for the first time since Friday."
The Metro-North crash at rush hour Friday evening injured 72 people. It snarled commutes for roughly 30,000 people who normally use the train, forcing travelers to navigate a patchwork of cars, trains and buses.
The repairs will require a reduced speed of 30 mph for several days, which officials say is standard for new track installations. Donovan said the reduced speed was extending travel time by only a few minutes.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident. Officials have said they are looking at two sections of rail after finding a fracture to determine if the damage occurred during or before the crash.
George Cahill, an attorney, said he is representing seven Metro-North workers injured in the crash as they pursue a claim for damages. He said it's not clear what caused the crash but said repair work done in the area weeks before it may have weakened the track, and he expressed concern that wheels on the new trains were too tight.
Metro-North spokeswoman Marjorie Anders declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.
"What one person calls repairs another calls maintenance," she wrote in an email.
Robert Kulat, a spokesman for the Federal Railroad Administration, said Metro-North visually inspected the tracks on May 15, two days before the accident, and found they were properly aligned, and the wood, steel and other construction materials were in good shape. He also said an inspection in April with a machine found no defects.
"It's like an ultrasound for rail," Kulat said of the earlier inspection.
Donovan could not confirm the inspection, referring all questions on the investigation to the NTSB.
The tracks have been rebuilt to current Federal Railroad Administration standards using all new materials and underwent rigorous testing, officials said. Railroad officials said the speed of the rebuilding effort was the result of hundreds of skilled people in multiple crafts working around the clock since Saturday night.
Some commuters used a shuttle train that ran between New Haven and Bridgeport, where a bus connection to Stamford circumvented the accident scene, and finally customers boarded a train for New York.
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