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Service through Connecticut rail crash zone to resume Wednesday

Story highlights

  • Service on Metro-North, Amtrak to resume Wednesday, officials say
  • "We scared the heck out of people, and it worked," transportation official says
  • One patient is in critical condition, four others are hospitalized after a derailment
  • Investigators are focusing on a broken rail but don't suspect foul play

Commuters who rely on the train between New Haven, Connecticut, and New York will be able to resume their usual travel Wednesday morning, five days after a derailment on one of the busiest tracks in the country.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy announced the resumption of the Metro-North line service in a new conference in which he also praised the timely work.

"This is very, very good news and something that we did not think could be accomplished, but full operations are expected to begin on Wednesday morning," said Malloy.

Amtrak released a statement shortly after the announcement saying service between Boston and New York will also resume Wednesday morning.

Because of the inconvenience, Amtrak said passengers who "have paid but choose not to travel due to this service disruption can receive a refund or a voucher for future travel."

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Commuters were warned that Monday's commute could be rough and that they should expect "substantial delays." But at 9 a.m., there were no lines and plenty of shuttle buses to take passengers around the 2,000 feet of bad track. Starting at 4:30 a.m., buses carrying 40 to 55 passengers each left Bridgeport, Connecticut, for Stamford.

"We scared the heck out of people, and it worked," a Connecticut Department of Transportation official at the site said. Officials say either people stayed home, took Monday off, or are waiting to see how things go. Even traffic flow was said to be normal for a Monday commute.

More than 30,000 passengers travel the rail corridor daily.

One Metro North employee with direct knowledge of the head count told CNN that the roughly 2,000 people who took the train from New Haven to Bridgeport Monday morning were "far, far fewer than normal."

Federal investigators are trying to determine what caused Friday's derailment of a northbound Metro-North train that struck Metro-North train that was headed south.

Investigators have ruled out foul play in the crash, which injured more than 70 people.

John Cappiello, a spokesman for Bridgeport Hospital in Connecticut, said three patients were still there Monday -- one person in critical condition and two listed as stable. Two patients remained at St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport, both in good condition, spokeswoman Lucinda Ames said.

Several officials at the tracks Monday morning wondered whether the number of commuters would pick up Tuesday once passengers saw how things went.

Rebuilding the tracks

All the rail cars had been removed from the accident site by Sunday afternoon, Earl Weener of the National Transportation Safety Board said. Two segments of rail in the area of the fracture also had been removed and are being sent to a laboratory for analysis, he said.

None of the cars flipped over when the two trains collided, but many cars were heavily damaged. Some had gaping holes where doors had been. Deep scrape marks could be seen where one train sideswiped the other.

Investigators will look at the trains' braking performances, speed, wheel and track conditions as well as information from data recorders, Weener said. In addition to the trains, investigators also are examining the actions of the crews.

He said the track could have been broken by the accident or could have been fractured before the trains collided.

This accident involved commuter rail cars built to new codes, he said Sunday.

"This gives us a chance to see how effective the new standards are," Weener said.

The two tracks will have to be repaired before they can be reopened.

"Our crews will essentially be rebuilding 2,000 feet of damaged track and overhead wires and signal system," Metro-North Railroad President Howard Permut said in a statement.

'Absolutely staggering' damage

The damage to the tracks and several train cars is "absolutely staggering," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who visited the site with other officials over the weekend. Wreckage littered an area of about 200 yards.

"Ribbons of the sides of cars are torn away like ribbons of cloth," the senator said. "Tons of metal tossed around like toy things. The insides of cars are shattered."

The two Metro-North passenger trains collided Friday evening in southwestern Connecticut. The train headed from New York City to New Haven derailed around 6:10 p.m. and struck the other train in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Weener said.

Both trains were traveling at about 70 mph immediately before the crash.