The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

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May 20, 2013

Connecticut lawmakers to seek hearings on derailment

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Commuters navigated a patchwork of cars, trains and buses along Connecticut's shoreline Monday, encountering lengthy delays as authorities probed the cause of a train collision that disrupted one of the nation's oldest and most heavily traveled railways.

While investigators have revealed little beyond their interest in one particular rail section, Connecticut lawmakers say they plan hearings on the crash on a rail network servicing New York City that they say is in need of extensive improvements.

The Metro-North crash at rush hour Friday evening injured 72 people, including one who remained in critical condition Monday. It snarled commutes for roughly 30,000 people who normally use the train.

For Gary Maddin, the drive from his home in Milford, Conn., to the Bridgeport train station normally takes 20 minutes. On Monday, it took an hour. Then he had a shuttle bus and a train ride before he got to his destination, Grand Central Terminal in New York.

"It's a lot," he said. "It's a nightmare just to get into the city today."

Members of the General Assembly's Transportation Committee said they planned to invite officials from the state Department of Transportation and Metro-North for hearings to help prevent future accidents. They say they have been briefed by state transportation officials over the years about the hefty investment Connecticut needs to make to fully upgrade the commuter rail line, including a couple of 100-year-old railroad bridges that need to be replaced.

"We're dealing with an old, old system, even though you have great cars that are new. But it's like anything else, you know. You can have a brand new car and it runs great, but if the roads are awful, with pot holes going up and down, what good is it?" said Rep. Antonio "Tony" Guerrera, D-Rocky Hill, co-chairman of the General Assembly's Transportation Committee.

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