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Rail News Home Federal Legislation & Regulation

12/28/2023



Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

NTSB focuses on worker protections in fatal NYCT accident investigation


The accident occurred Nov. 29, when the train struck and killed the employee working on track B2 of the D Line near the 34th Street-Herald Square Station in Manhattan.
Photo – ntsb.gov

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The National Transportation Safety Board has issued its preliminary report on a fatal accident involving an MTA New York City Transit subway train and an employee working as a flagger on a track cleaning crew.

The accident occurred Nov. 29, when the train struck and killed the employee working on track B2 of the D Line near the 34th Street-Herald Square Station in Manhattan. As the train entered the cleaning crew's work zone, it deployed an uncommanded brakes-in-emergency (BIE) application, according to the NTSB report.

When the operator exited the train to determine what caused the BIE application, the operator saw the employee was under the train and unresponsive. The employee was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment and pronounced dead. No other injuries were reported. The accident took place in an underground tunnel, visibility conditions were dark and weather was not a factor.

Train movements in the area of the accident are authorized by wayside signal indications and coordinated and controlled by the 34th Street tower operator. The track is equipped with permanent trip blocks controlled and actuated by the signal system; these trip blocks trigger a BIE application if a train moves through a signal requiring a stop.

The track cleanup crew consisted of 12 employees tasked with removing debris from track B2. The crew went on duty at 10 p.m. and set up portable yellow flagging lights and a portable trip block south of the work zone. The flagger was equipped with a red light and positioned between the northernmost yellow flagging lights and the rest of the cleanup crew.

Based on witness statements and interviews with NTSB investigators, the train approached the work zone about 12:10 a.m. on the day of the accident, slowing and stopping short of the red light held by the flagger. The flagger signaled to the track foreman that a train needed authorization to traverse the work zone. The foreman cleared the cleanup crew from the track and signaled to the flagger to let the train pass. The flagger extinguished the red light, removed the portable trip block, and signaled to the train to proceed.

The investigation is ongoing. NTSB investigators are focusing on the NYCT's internal oversight and worker protection procedures, and the external oversight of NYCT provided by the Federal Transit Administration and the New York Department of Transportation.



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