Passengers riding the subway were frightened and dozens were injured when two cars approaching the 125th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue station began shaking violently and derailed. Hundreds were evacuated along the subway line.
“We started seeing sparks through the windows. People were falling,” said passenger Susan Pak, of Englewood Cliffs, N.J.
Pak said the A train jerked and began shaking violently as it approached the station at 125th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue.
Two of the eight cars on the train derailed. Sparks from the skidding train briefly ignited garbage on the track, but there was no serious fire, said Joe Lhota, chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
At this time, the cause of the derailment is still under investigation. Lhota said the emergency braking system on the train triggered, but it wasn’t immediately clear why. He said he didn’t know yet whether a passenger had pulled the emergency brake.
“This, to the best of my knowledge, does not look like a failure on the part of equipment, does not look like a failure on the part of the track itself,” he said. “We need to determine what it is.”
Fire officials reported 34 people suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
Three other trains were in the tunnel at the time of the derailment, he said. All were evacuated.
It’s unclear what effect the situation would have on the afternoon commute. Lhota said that service on the affected train line is suspended until further notice.
Delays were reported throughout the subway system, which has been plagued by problems this year.
“People are terrified,” John Raskin, Riders Alliance executive director, told NY1 television. “It’s clear we have an outdated and crumbling public transit system. It’s not just a convenience — it’s dangerous. … If this doesn’t get the attention of Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo and state lawmakers, I don’t know what will.”
Subway delays have tripled in the past five years, to 70,000 per month. In recent months, several high-profile incidents have occurred, including subway trains stuck in tunnels for an hour or more. In April, a power outage backed up trains around the city and closed a key Manhattan station for 12 hours.
Commuter railroads have also had problems recently. A report earlier this month found rush-hour cancellations and delays on New York’s Long Island Rail Road are at the highest level in 10 years.