U.S. Transportation Secretary discusses importance of rail - WFSB 3 Connecticut

U.S. Transportation Secretary discusses importance of rail investment

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The following photo is from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's Twitter account. The following photo is from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's Twitter account.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was in New Haven to discuss upgrading Connecticut's aging rail system, however it comes after rising safety concerns following a crash on a Metro-North line in May.

Monday's visit is in direct response to the Metro-North train derailment in Bridgeport in May. That incident injured dozens of passengers, caused millions in damage and impacted the busy commute for days.

In the days following the derailment, which sent 76 people to the hospital, the tracks were down as crews made repairs and investigators looked into a cause.

A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board showed that the tracks were inspected just two days before the crash.

Investigators found a problem with the supporting material under the rail joint and the NTSB is trying to figure out if that is in fact the cause. Sections of the rail impacted from the crash were taken for testing, but the NTSB said it could take up to a year and a half before it issues a full report.

Eyewitness News asked Foxx, who was making his first official visit to any state since his confirmation, about that crash and what needs to be make the rails safer.

Foxx pledged his commitment to making federal money available to improve safety and reliability.

"In the north east, we have an aging rail infrastructure that needs to be maintained and repaired in some cases," Foxx said.

Every day, thousands of commuters use the New Haven Line to head towards New York City.

However, Foxx stopped short of saying whether there should be more inspections.

"On that very same day, defects were found in other sections of the track by the same inspectors," said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal. "None of them were corrected."

Several lawsuits have been filed by those injured. Connecticut is liable for damages and claims because they own the tracks, even though Metro-North operates and maintains them.

Connecticut elected leaders said they see rail improvements as a way to spur economic growth and create jobs.

Linda Hesser travels by train quite often to see family and friends. She said people sometimes take safety for granted.

"I feel pretty safe. I don't even worry about it," Hesser said. "I know it's getting older and I see the accidents. But I never focus on that."

Connecticut elected leaders want all the federal money that's available. Half of the new rail cars are up and ready while the other half is on its way to Connecticut.

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