Two cars of a packed southbound A train jumped from the track and collided with a wall between 135th Street and 125th Street Tuesday morning. No deaths were reported, but over two dozen people sustained minor injuries.
The emergency brake had been activated, which caused the train to veer off the tracks, but it’s unclear why, Metropolitan Transportation Authority leader Joseph J. Lhota said, according to The New York Times. There were over 800 people in the tunnel after the crash and it took them over an hour to evacuate.
Thirty-four people were reported as injured. Cell phone recordings from riders show a darkened train filled with smoke.
Damage was quite severe, writes the Times:
... about 200 feet of track and multiple signals damaged and mounds of concrete shorn from the walls — that a track worker said it was highly unlikely that regular service along the line could be restored by the end of the day.
Meanwhile, Twitter user Tolly Wright offered a first-hand account of the evacuation.
“I have never been more confident about the true amazing nature of New Yorkers and this isn’t some bullshit I’m writing for my job. This morning I was on a train heading to work when it started screeching and swerving. There was a flash and then all the lights went out, then smoke. Someone screamed and started to run to the back where I was sitting. There was smoke. Everywhere. “Calm down!” A few soothing voices yelled. People closer to the front of the car said they saw fire on the tracks in front of us though I didn’t see it. Later we learned it was just sparks. We couldn’t hear anything over the intercom. No cell service. The door to the last car was locked. A man kicked the window of the door open. We began calmly single file exiting to the last train. If the fire came any closer the idea was to evacuate and go down the tunnel out the last train. I helped one person, then another climb through the window, holding purses, lending an arm. A shorter women came and a man and I lifted through the window he followed her to help her through the next. I followed shortly after, I wasn’t one of those real brave people who put everyone before themselves. When I got to the last car the air was better but I started shaking slightly, thinking about how long we’d already been in the dark. A woman holding an accounting studying book came up to me, “hey I’m your friend, my name is Rachel. You look a little shaken up. I am too.” I’m okay. I was okay. There was someone hyperventilating, she had been in Times Square during the car deaths. It was a lot. A man was holding his little child, showing her pictures and other distractions on his phone as if nothing was happening. After the fire department saved us I saw her wearing a FDNY little helmet. It made me want to cry. I did cry, but that was later. On the train we god word that the MTA and fire fighters were here but we couldn’t see them. They were evacuating us out the front of the train. Brave souls held doors, kept their flashlights shining, staying longer in the smoke for the comfort and safety of other passengers. We had to go through thicker smoke to get out, some people were coughing. I wish I had my inhaler to help them. I saw fire fighters with flashlights on the track and knew. We were safe. Along the way people offered each other words of encouragement. Smiles. “This is the best train evacuation ever, you guys are the best,” a MTA employee said. After traveling through what felt like 20 cars, though I know factually it was a lot less, I exited onto the platform at 125th street. We stood for a moment taking it all in. Some people offering to help others in a daze. I saw Rachel and thanked for for being so kind. Some people started clapping, for us, for mta, for police for fdny for life. I saw the hyperventilating woman exiting holding onto a stranger, another young woman who had been a calm, soothing rock to her through the train. She started sobbing, probably relieved it was over. I exited the station soon after. Called work and started walking up St. Nicholas heading home. And in that moment never had Harlem seemed more beautiful and I cried.”
This crash is just the latest in a string of incidents that have riders criticizing the state of the subway, which sees an annual ridership of over 2.7 billion people. Among other things, frequent and long delays have tempers running high.