‘Trouble’ Zone? NYC Subway Derailed Despite Brand New Rail

The NYC subway that derailed Friday morning in Queens, near the Woodside Station at 65th St and Broadway, occurred in a stretch of track that has been plagued with broken rails and maintenance issues going back at least a decade, and maybe even longer. The site of yesterday’s derailment, along with four other areas, were targeted specifically for a multimillion dollar project to replace large sections of train and subway tracks with longer rails welded together for greater strength.

The project isn’t slated to commence until 2015.

Roughly 1,000 riders were aboard the Manhattan-bound F train when a subway rail beneath it snapped at approximately 10:24 am. The derailed subway train was moving along a straightaway that follows a long, sweeping curve that trains enter after a downhill run, according to sources within the transit authority. The subway derailment area falls within one of five zones the MTA has deemed “critical rail break” corridors.

Most of the subway rails in the Queens corridor, and throughout the vast majority of the centuries old, labyrinthine system’s 659 miles of track, are bolted and fastened together, not welded.

However, the subway rail that snapped Friday morning was only recently manufactured, and installed just weeks ago, an MTA spokesman said earlier today. According to MTA spokesman Adam Linsberg, this section of track was manufactured here in the United States in November 2013 and put in place this April.

“We’re going to track down other rails from this shipment and see where they went,” said Lisberg. “And we’re going to closely inspect all other rails in this area.”

MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast was “speaking generally” about the age of subway rails in the area of the derailment when he stated in an interview yesterday that they dated back two or three decades, Lisberg said.

“Clearly, age of the rail is not a factor in the investigation of this derailment,” said Lisberg.

Investigators are still searching for the cause of the scary Friday morning subway wreck which injured 19 passengers near the Broadway and 65th St. station.

Four subway cars from the derailed train have been moved to the rail yard in Jamaica as the probe continues. Meanwhile, dozens of MTA repair workers are going around the clock to repair the damaged 500-foot stretch of rail.

And commuters worry that tomorrow’s major track replacement project isn’t going to protect riders from the catastrophe that happens today. From Gene Russianoff, executive director of the Straphangers Campaign advocacy group:

“You have got to ask about this near rush-hour derailment on one of the busiest lines in the subways: Are transit officials replacing track fast enough and in the right places?”