Security and Safety

Metro-North 'third rail' is a focus of crash inquiry

Posted on February 10, 2015

Photo: Jeff Berman via Flickr
Photo: Jeff Berman via Flickr

VALHALLA, N.Y. — Officials are questioning whether the design of its electrified “third rail” powering Metro-North Railroad contributed to the deadliness of the fatal train wreck in Valhalla, N.Y. on February 3, the Associated Press reported.

Four hundred feet of electrified third rail snapped into 12 pieces and speared the commuter train during a fiery collision with an SUV that was stopped on the tracks, killing six people, the report said.

RELATED: NTSB puzzled by SUV involved in Metro-North crash

Metro-North is believed to be the only U.S. commuter railroad that uses the "under-running" or "under-riding" configuration: A metal "shoe" slips underneath the third rail rather than skimming along the top. Some have questioned whether the collision caused the shoe to pry up the third rail, according to the AP.

NTSB investigators brief Members of Congress while touring facility where train is being examined. NTSB
NTSB investigators brief Members of Congress while touring facility where train is being examined. NTSB

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