A year after a fiery train and truck crash in Maspeth, one lawmaker demands answers

Photo by Robert Stridiron

What are the results?

That is what one Queens politician wants to know from the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) investigation into New York & Atlantic Railway’s (NYA) safety culture and management practices after a speeding train crashed into a tractor-trailer in Maspeth on July 8, 2015.

Congresswoman Grace Meng is calling on the FRA to release the findings from their nearly yearlong study of NYA’s procedures. Last week, the congresswoman wrote a letter to Sarah E. Feinberg, administrator for the FRA, requesting the findings be released.

“I am alarmed that after a year since this crash occurred, we are still without the answers needed to improve the safety of this railroad crossing, which is one of the most frequented grade crossings on the most active railway in my Congressional district,” Meng said. “Thankfully, the specific train crash that prompted this investigation resulted in no fatalities. But appropriate safety measures must be in place to prevent an incident like this from occurring again. The FRA must quickly release the data and recommendations resulting from its probe. Every day that lingers without these crucial safety improvements is another day where lives are at risk.”

The FRA inspected a bevy of NYA’s operating departments and practices including engineer and conductor certifications, grade crossing diagnostics, operation control center procedures and rail traffic controller training methods, and others.

Community leaders are coming out in support of Meng, wanting to know the results of the investigation.

“LIRR [Long Island Rail Road] needs the FRA report now … to protect communities and commuters by implementing the report’s recommendations,” said Mary Parisen, chair of Civics United for Railroad and Environmental Solutions (CURES).

According to the investigation of the 2015 crash, the train was traveling at 20 mph, five miles above the 15 mph area railroad speed limit. The speed of the train did not allow for the safety gates to drop in time, allowing the truck to make its way onto the tracks as the train approached.

In response to the crash, a stop sign was placed near the intersection of Maspeth Avenue and Rust Street — the site of the crash — in January 2016.

Paul Victor, president of NYA, is an unaware of the findings from the study and declined to comment to QNS on Meng’s request to release the findings.