In the deadliest accident in Metro-North Railroad’s history, a commuter train slammed into an SUV at a crossing in Valhalla, killing Ellen Brody, the driver, and five train passengers. While media reports have placed the blame on the driver for finding herself on the tracks, many rail workers and others say the crossing where the crash took place was unsafe and the fault lies with the state-run railroad.
As Virginia and North Carolina railroad attorneys we know that railroad crossings are dangerous and a number of factors can play into creating a perfect environment for an accident. Examples would be a malfunctioning railroad signal, not having active railroad signals or even overgrown foliage. When the Governor of New York was asked why steps aren't being taken to eliminate ground-level crossings and replace them with under- or overpasses he said, “In theory it’s a nice idea. In practicality, do we have the money, do we have the time? And is it one of the top priority safety projects? I would say no.”
Since 2003 there have been 260 grade-crossing “accidents” on the three commuter rail systems that serve the greater New York City area — Metro-North, New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Rail Road. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, 73 people were killed and 148 injured.