By all accounts, last week was a tragic week for the Long Island Rail Road. On Monday, February 25th, Newsday reported a delay to a $1 Billion project to install federally mandated safety equipment on Long Island Rail Road trains due to the contractor installing faulty equipment.
On its own, this news was enough to anger the regular commuters of America’s busiest Rail Service. This news did not sit well with people after the recent report that LIRR planned to raise fares, already a sore point with LIRR commuters, in 2019.
Fatal Accident In Westbury
On Tuesday night, February 26th, three people were killed when their car was hit by two trains as they tried to get around a crossing gate at School Street near the Westbury Station. The crash caused cancelations and delays throughout the next couple of days after the accident.
There was no discussion or thought the Positive Train Control system that was at the center of the issues reported on Monday had anything to do with the Tuesday accident, nor should it have been. However, the reports of problems with new safety equipment coupled with the news of a crash at a street-level crossing just highlights how much work the Long Island Rail Road and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) still has to do to make the commuter rail systems such as the LIRR and MTA’s Metro-North safe for commuters and drivers.
Improvements Discussed since the 1940s
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had said last year that they were looking into replacing seven crossings on Long Island and admitted that upgrades to these crossing had been discussed, with little to no action, “since the 1940s.”
This accident is also not the first time the School Street crossing has been in the news. A pedestrian committed suicide in 2009 at this location. There have also been six fatal crashes on the Main Line of the LIRR alone between 2007 and 2017.
In 2015, a crash between a car and a train on the Metro-North led to the deaths of several people both in the car and on the train.
Safety Needs to be a Priority
The MTA needs to make safety on New York’s commuter rails more of a priority. To admit that discussions were dating back to the 1940s is incredible. That we are still discussing these safety improvements on the Main Line almost 70 years later shows that agencies at all level of government and those in the MTA need to take safety concerns seriously. Action must be taken to protect New Yorkers on the trains in their vehicles. How many more crashes and fatalities will there be before obvious safety hazards like street-level crossings are dealt with properly?
Why Call Marc Albert?
Marc S. Albert has litigated personal injury claims on behalf of catastrophically injured commuters on some of the most devastating train accidents in recent memory. In the last five years alone, Mr. Albert has represented clients in both the 2013 Metro-North derailment which occurred at or about the Spuyten Duyvil station in Bronx County, and the 2015 Amtrak derailment which occurred in Philadelphia.