Conn. train collision a major headache for commuters

(CBS News) BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - It will almost certainly be an ugly commute on the East Coast for tens of thousands Monday morning.

Train service on part of the country's busiest rail line is out of commission.

Crews are starting to rebuild hundreds of feet of track south of New Haven, Conn. following a train collision Friday night which sent 72 people to the hospital.

Investigators are focusing their attention on a section on broken rail as the possible culprit in the accident. They don't yet know if the crash broke the rail, or the rail caused the crash.

Metro-North workers removed a jagged piece of metal from one of the damaged trains. Before, an engineer slowly eased it down the tracks. The National Transportation Board gave Metro-North permission to move the trains even as their investigation continues.

metro north, MTA, rail, train, derailment, repair
Metro-North Railroad crews worked to repair tracks and re-rail train cars on Sunday, May 19, 2013, following a derailment on Friday, May 17, 2013.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority/Patrick Cashin

Once the trains have been removed, they still have to repair the tracks and the overhead wires -- and that's not a quick process.

"We have about 2,000 feet of track that was completely destroyed that needs to be completely re tracked," said Adam Lisberg, spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). "It is going to be a lengthy job we are essentially building a railroad from scratch."

"It is going to be several days," he added. "The only advice we can give right now is that we don't expect to have tracks back running well into the coming week."

Which means the derailment will affect thousands of lives.

"This kind of paralyzing accident may have an incalculable impact in economic terms because this railroad is a lifeline for commuters," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

The MTA says 30,000 people each day ride on this section of rail. They plan to offer bus service to help those commuters.

But they also expect a large number to take their own car to work, joining the tens of thousands of other commuters on the I-95 corridor, which is already a traffic nightmare at rush hour.

  • Don Dahler

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