On Wednesday, January 28, 2015 at approximatley 1720 hours, Metro-North train 953 derailed the locomotive and two cars while departing track 18 in Grand Central Terminal.
Nobody was hurt. The passengers were transferred to another train with difficulty, and it was apparent from evidence immediately available that no operating rule had been violated by the train crew. It was a derailment.
Now the derailment of a revenue train is never a minor incident. You can't be a little bit derailed, just like you can't be a little bit pregnant. You're either on the rails or you're not. And if not, you better be able to explain why, even before you get the train rerailed which should have been two hours ago no matter how soon you do get it rerailed. But...
but as these things go, this isn't a difficult derailment. It's a simple derailment.
Doesn't mean somebody could not have detected a track flaw sooner; doesn't mean we can afford to not review our operating and maintenance procedures towards reducing the likelihood of repeated incidents.
Well so much for business. Our favorite senators, the Schumenthal are concerned that this derailment is evidence of continued deterioration in Metro-North's practice of safe train operations.
The Schumenthal demand answers from the Metro-North president, Joe Giulietti, and because it's winter and winter is the busiest and worst time for railroads and their presidents, but not for retired railroaders who get to laugh and open another bottle of wine when the forecast says "Storm of the Century Approaches City," I thought I'd help out and write a letter of response not for Joe, who has enough trouble without my assistance, but for myself just keeping my hand in, if you know what I mean?
So good to hear from you again. You have become so much more than the railroad's partners. Those who worked, and still work, at Metro-North have come to regard you as part of our great railroad family, and while some cynics think that family is an excuse to say and do things to people you would never say and do to strangers, I want you to know that's not how we here feel about you over there. No way, I'm not lying. Promise.
I think we're close enough to dispense with the formalities and use our first names. You can call me Dave S, or Mr. Bigshot, and I'll call you CH, for "Camera-hound" and you Dick, "Near Miss" for that little incident you had on the New Haven line not so long ago with that Amtrak train, remember?
Anyway, I'd love to answer your questions, and promise I will (double promise, and in public, in a big open letter available to all, triple promise), but I think it's better to wait for FRA, NTSB, PSTB, TRB, MTA, NYCDOT, NYT, WSJ, to finish their investigations sometime in the next century.
Meanwhile, I'm no believer in conspiracy theories or supernatural interventions or even karma, but I will point out that the locomotive involved in the January 28 derailment is the same locomotive involved in the derailment of train 8808 in December 2013.
We have impounded the locomotive, surrounded it with barbed wire, derails, and chocks, and have a 24 hour armed guard assigned with instructions to shoot to kill should the locomotive attempt to move.
We think the locomotive may have been possessed by the spirit of one of our retired ACFL9 locomotives 2040 which was known on the railroad as 'El Diablo' due to its incredible failure rate.
We have contracted with a consulting company, Ghostbusters Inc., to examine the locomotive inch by inch for evidence of evil spirits, poltergeists, lost souls, old X file videos. Some progress has been made as Ghostbusters Inc. reported finding several Celine Dion cds embedded in the locomotive's computer, which we think may have compelled the locomotive to attempt suicide.
If necessary we will request authorization from the MTA Board to hire an acupunturist, a shaman, a griot, an aroma therapist, a crystal-ologist, and a deep tissue masseuse. If all else fails, we'll bring in the Wizard of Oz.
OK my homeys. That's the skinny. Gotta bounce.
"The theory that all negligence which causes serious disaster will always be found to have been more or less habitual is still worthy of respect"--
Railway Gazette, Vol 21, 1889 (with thanks to PN)