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Federal Report Faults Bolts on New Metro-North M-8 Rail Cars

A federal report stemming from the investigation into the May 2013 derailment of a Metro-North Railroad train that injured scores of passengers in Bridgeport said that bolts on brand-new M-8 cars are too weak.

The National Transportation Safety Board recommends that Metro-North replace thousands of bolts on the fleet of more than 400 new Kawasaki rail cars on the New Haven line and New Canaan branch.

The NTSB said the bolts were not to blame for the derailment, but that their failure made the two-train collision worse, because a piece of one car sliced into the passenger compartment of another.

From the report:

In the collision, a truck assembly from lead passenger railcar 9193 of striking passenger train 1581 detached from the railcar body. The truck moved laterally, rotated, and protruded from under the passenger railcar. The front left corner of the truck struck and raked passenger railcar 9247, which was the fourth passenger railcar of train 1548. The raking impact created a sidewall intrusion into the occupant space of passenger railcar 9247. ...

A detached truck assembly from a Metro-North car protruding into another car.
Credit NTSB
A detached truck assembly from a Metro-North car protruding into another car.
An examination of the detached truck assembly identified that all of the mounting bolts had failed. On M-8 passenger railcars, the truck assembly is attached to the passenger railcar body with eight 1.25-inch diameter Grade 5 bolts at 952 foot-pounds of torque. Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 238.219, which applies to the minimum strength of the truck-to-railcar body attachments, states the following: Passenger equipment shall have a truck-to-car-body attachment with an ultimate strength sufficient to resist without failure the following individually applied loads: 2g vertically on the mass of the truck; and 250,000 pounds in any horizontal direction on the truck, along with the resulting vertical reaction to this load. For purposes of this section, the mass of the truck includes axles, wheels, bearings, the truck-mounted brake system, suspension system components, and any other component attached to the truck by design.

State Transportation Commissioner James Redeker said Monday that the M-8s meet all federal standards and are entirely safe.

Metro-North spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said M-8 cars are safe and comply with FRA requirements.

This report includes information from The Associated Press.

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