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NTSB: Engineer Saw 'Unusual Condition' On Track Before Metro-North Crash

A National Transportation Safety Board worker inspects one of the trains damaged in the collision last Friday on the Bridgeport-Fairfield border.
A National Transportation Safety Board worker inspects one of the trains damaged in the collision last Friday on the Bridgeport-Fairfield border. Photo Credit: NTSB via Flickr

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – One Metro-North train engineer saw “an unusual condition on the track" just before last week’s train derailment and collision on the Bridgeport-Fairfield border in a spot near where a rail joint had been repaired in April, the National Transportation Safety Board announced Friday.

The NTSB has been investigating the train collision, which injured 76 people Friday evening. Early reports from the NTSB centered on a fractured rail joint , a piece that ties two rail lines together.

Investigators found records that showed that a joint bar was reported as cracked during an inspection at the site in April, the NTSB said in a statement Friday. The joint bar was repaired by Metro-North Railroad at the time, the report says. The piece and nearby sections of rail are currently being analyzed at a laboratory in Washington, D.C.

The collision occurred when an eastbound Metro-North train went off the rails and was struck by an oncoming train in the opposite direction Friday. The eastbound train was not moving at the time of the crash.

The eastbound train’s engineer told investigators he saw “an unusual condition on the track as he approached the Interstate 95 overpass,” the NTSB said Friday. The westbound train’s engineer was able to apply emergency brakes before the collision but not in enough time to stop the crash, investigators said.

The incident remains under investigation. A full report could take as long as a year to complete, NTSB member Earl Weener said Sunday.

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