34 people were injured when two cars of the 'A' subway train derailed in Upper Manhattan, triggering a power outage that halted service on four lines Tuesday morning.
The accident occurred just before 10:00 a.m. near the 125th Street Station in Harlem.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials said the emergency brake for a southbound 'A' train was triggered, causing two cars to go off the tracks and hit the wall of the subway tunnel. The train was just north of the station at the time.
A power outage followed and riders evacuated from the stalled train in a dark and smoky tunnel. FDNY officials say at least 34 people suffered mostly minor injuries, including smoke inhalation.
Straphangers detailed a horrific scene as the train came to a screeching halt before smoke engulfed the darkened cars. After being trapped for a few minutes, panicked riders on the A train and a trailing D train broke windows on their subway cars and climbed out onto the tracks. Subway riders risked their lives walking in dark Brooklyn tunnel.
"One lady began having a panic attack, and most people had to use their shirts to not breathe in the smoke (from the accident). Some people were crying," one passenger, Benjamin Williams, posted on Twitter before being evacuated.
Patients have been taken to Harlem and Columbia Presbyterian hospitals.
The exact details of the derailment are unclear at this time, and the train is being examined intensely.
Metropolitan Transport Authorty Chairman Joe Lhota, who just started his second time as head of the transit agency last week, said that early initial suggests the A train’s emergency brakes switched on — though the MTA will need to conduct a full investigation to figure out why. Lhota added that sparks and smoke witnesses reported were likely caused by track garbage.
Some 34 straphangers were injured Tuesday when a section of a subway train flew off the tracks in Harlem — filling several cars with smoke, forcing hundreds to be evacuated and crippling service citywide.
Four cars in the Brooklyn-bound A train dislodged from the tracks outside the 125th St. station near St. Nicholas Ave. about 9:45 a.m. after its emergency brakes were triggered, sources and officials said.
Straphangers described a harrowing scene as the train came to a screeching halt before smoke poured into the darkened cars.
"We were going between 135th, 125th downtown. Normal pace, then all of a sudden it was like a bucking horse, we were going up and down, all up the sides. People were flying all over the cars," said one rider. "People were panicking, jumping out of their seats, just crying and praying out loud. and it was just very traumatizing," added another passenger on the train. "Being in that situation where I felt like you could die, and then seeing everybody step up and try to get through," noted a third passenger.
Lhota and Ronnie Hakim, the MTA’s acting executive director, said there was no telling when full subway service would be fully restored.
Lhota said engineers still had to remove the derailed train to determine the extent of the damage to the tracks.
“Our goal is to get back and running as quickly as possible,” Lhota said.
Lhota added that the smoke issues was caused by debris on the tracks that went up in flames.
Lhota said workers still had to remove the derailed train to determine the extent of the damage to the tracks. “Our goal is to get back and running as quickly as possible,” Lhota said. Lhota added that the smoke condition was caused by debris on the tracks that went up in flames.
Jack Cox, an IT engineer, was on the train when it began jostling, and he felt a "large thump." It all lasted about 30 seconds, he said.
"During the whole time, it was just like, "What's going on? What's going to happen?' Then it stopped. I didn't have time to be scared before then, but I looked around and the woman next to me was curled up in some sort of fetal tuck."
Cox said smoke started coming in from one end of the car. "It wasn't heavy smoke, but it was frightening," he said.
He said riders ended up walking through the darkened cars using cellphones for light and exiting onto the platform.
As for Tuesday’s accident, service disruptions are likely to continue and the MTA has not yet given a timeline for restoration of the affected lines. The derailed train needs to be hauled away, and the subway track and tunnel will need to be repaired. According to the Times, about 200 feet of track and signals were damaged.
This latest transit disaster comes as subway delays have increased to nearly 70,000 a month this year. Earlier this month an F train lost power and got stuck inside a tunnel, where its passengers sweated with no AC for nearly 45 minutes. And next week marks the official start of the Penn Station “summer of hell,” where Amtrak track closures will cause disruptions on the MTA’s Long Island Railroad commuter trains and New Jersey Transit.