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Safety review launched in Maspeth freight rail crash

By Gabriel Rom

The Federal Railroad Administration has launched a safety review of freight-line New York & Atlantic’s safety culture and management practices.

The sweeping review, announced last week, follows the July 8 train-truck collision at a railroad crossing on Maspeth Avenue, which left the truck’s driver injured. The tractor trailer was leaving a wrehouse on Maspeth Avenue when it was clipped by the train. The cab of the truck then burst into flames and was dragged along the track for almost 200 feet. The driver jumped out before his truck caught fire, avoiding serious injury.

According to FRA, the railroad has offered its full cooperation with the safety investigation. FRA has also launched a separate investigating into the crash itself.

“The recent train crash in Maspeth could have been much worse, and it is vital we take every precaution to avoid the possibility of an accident like this in the future. The announced federal safety review is important to ensure our communities are safe. I look forward to the start of this review and monitoring its progress,” City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) said.

The federal safety probe will review both technical and human factors, including New York & Atlantic’s operating documents, engineer and conductor certification, locomotive engineer oversight, grade crossing diagnostics, operational control center procedures, rail traffic controller training and the railroad’s compliance with federal practices regulations.

“Today’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to launch a safety review of the New York & Atlantic Railway is welcoming news. After last week’s train-truck collision in Queens, this study is much needed for our community. I am confident that this review by the FRA will help to improve safety standards. I will continue to monitor this important situation and working with my partners in government- city, state and federal, to make sure that Queens rails and roads are safe,” City Councilwoman Catherine Nolan (D-Ridgewood) said in a statement.

Once the safety review is complete, FRA will issue a report that includes findings and recommendations. FRA will also evaluate New York & Atlantic’s follow-up to the recommendations and determine if additional actions are necessary to strengthen safety at the freight railway.

“In this safety sweep of NYA, FRA will provide recommendations on specific areas where the railroad must improve to meet the high safety standards FRA and the country expect,” Acting FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg said.

Paul Victor, president of the NYA, said he would await further information before commenting.

You can reach reporter Gabriel Rom at grom@cnglocal.com or at 718-260-4564.

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