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Rail Safety On Metro-North Commuter Lines, One Year After Fatal Crash

A year ago, this commuter train remained on the tracks in Valhalla as police and MTA investigators searched the wreckage for additional victims. Six people were killed in the deadliest crash of Metro-North's history.
A year ago, this commuter train remained on the tracks in Valhalla as police and MTA investigators searched the wreckage for additional victims. Six people were killed in the deadliest crash of Metro-North's history. Photo Credit: Jon Craig

VALHALLA, N.Y. -- A year after the deadliest railroad crash in Metro-North history, local congressmen and the head of the Federal Railroad Administration promised life-saving changes at crossings in the Hudson Valley.

During a conference call with reporters on Monday, U.S. Reps. Nita Lowey and Sean Patrick Maloney said federal aid and loans were approved to physically improve grade crossings as well as upgrade technology.

Lowey, D-Harrison, said: "We absolutely must improve the safety of rail crossings in our communities. . . . This is just the beginning of our work."

On Feb. 3, 2015, five Metro-North passengers were killed when a commuter train collided with a Mercedes SUV at Commerce Street in Valhalla. The car's driver, Ellen Brody of Edgemont, also died in the fiery collision which remains under investigation by the FRA and the National Transportation Safety Board.

Lowey said improvements in pavement markings and the railroad grade already have been made at the Roaring Brook Road crossing in Chappaqua.

Maloney, a Democrat from Cold Spring, said: "We never want to have another death from a train derailment or a grade crossing accident in the Hudson Valley. . . . We should be able to permanently prevent another tragedy like the one we had in Valhalla."

Maloney pointed out that 95 percent of all railroad deaths occur at grade crossings.

Acting FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg said: "We can always do more to prevent these grade crossing accidents. . . . We're doing everything we can on technology."

"As we approach this anniversary, we are ever vigilant to do everything we can to improve grade crossing safety,'' Feinberg said. "To our knowledge, nothing has been done that we know to change the equipment at that (Valhalla) crossing."

Lowey said the state is required to spend $9.8 million this year on upgrading rail crossings, up from $6.1 million this year.

"This is an important first step to make sure these horrific crashes don't devastate more lives,'' Lowey said.

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