The summer of subway hell continues, after an A train derailed just before the 125th Street station in Harlem during the end of the Tuesday morning rush. A southbound A train reportedly hit the wall of the tunnel shortly after 9:45 a.m., causing the first two subway cars to jump the tracks. A power outage followed and riders evacuated from the stalled train in a dark and smoky tunnel. FDNY officials say at least 34 people suffered mostly minor injuries, including smoke inhalation.
The derailment and subsequent outage nearly paralyzed subway service Tuesday morning. The MTA had completely or partially suspended service on the A, B, C, and D lines, at first saying the changes were “due to an investigation” between 59th Street and 125th Street. New York City Transit later amended that to confirm a derailment at 125th Street, along with a power outage contributed to these cascading delays across the system.
MTA Chairman Joe Lhota, who just started his second stint as head of the transit agency last week, said that early evidence suggests the A train’s emergency brakes switched on — though the MTA will need to conduct a full investigation to figure out why. Lhota added that sparks and smoke witnesses reported were likely caused by track garbage.
Riders documented the scene on social media, describing smoke and a loud bang and darkness. “People were in and out of their seats all over screaming, power went out and then it stopped and the car filled up with smoke” a rider on the derailed train told CBS 2. “We didn’t know what was going on.”
Commuters also recorded the train evacuation in the nearly pitch-dark tunnel. About 800 people needed to removed from the subway tunnel, reports the New York Times.
At least two other trains were evacuated as a result of the A-train derailment, reports NBC 4. The MTA said a C and D train had been evacuated already, and one more train — reportedly another D train — needed to be emptied out of its passengers. (Daily Intelligencer reached out to the MTA for more details, and we’ll update if we hear back.)
Riders who appeared to be on those trains posted on social media that they waited more than an hour for emergency personnel to come to their aid.
This latest transit disaster comes as subway delays have skyrocketed to nearly 70,000 a month this year. Earlier this month an F train lost power and got stuck inside a tunnel, where its passengers sweated with no AC for nearly 45 minutes. And next week marks the official start of the Penn Station “summer of hell,” where Amtrak track closures will cause disruptions on the MTA’s LIRR commuter trains and New Jersey Transit.
As for Tuesday’s incident, significant service disruptions and delays are likely to continue through the evening commute on the A, B, C, D, E, M, and F lines (though keep checking for updates!). The MTA has also not yet given a timeline for restoration of the affected lines, though Lhota said that the MTA is trying to get everything “back up and running as quickly as possible.” The derailed train did some serious damage to the tunnel wall, the signaling equipment, and the tracks – about 200 feet of it, according to the Times – and all will need to repaired.
This post has been updated throughout.