BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) _ A trust fund should be established to ensure the upkeep and safety of the nation’s rail system, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Wednesday, labeling the recent derailment in Connecticut and other accidents a call to action.
Blumenthal, fellow Sen. Chris Murphy, U.S. Rep. Jim Himes and Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch appeared at news conference Wednesday in response to the May 17 accident near the city that injured more than 70 people on two commuter trains.
Blumenthal said the Connecticut crash, a derailment near Baltimore on Tuesday and other accidents point out the need for a fund, which he said would similar to those already in place for highway construction and the dredging of ports.
“Lack of public trust and confidence in safety and reliability threaten to undermine the entire rail system,” Blumenthal said.
The National Transportation Safety Board has ruled out foul play in the Connecticut accident, which occurred on the New Haven line of Metro-North, a rail service used by tens of thousands of commuters north of New York City.
The NTSB has said that a cracked joint bar, used to hold two sections of rail together, had been repaired last month and that rail sections in the area of the derailment have been shipped to Washington for further examination.
Adam Lisberg, a Metropolitan Transit Authority spokesman, said the joint bar was replaced. Metro-North is conducting an inspection and inventory of all the joint bars on its main tracks, said NTSB, which is continuing to investigate the derailment.
Authorities also are looking into a fatal accident on the same line Tuesday, when a Metro-North foreman was struck and killed by a train at a station under construction in West Haven.
“The safety of our customers and our employees is the highest priority for Metro-North Railroad,” the railroad said in a statement Wednesday.
“We are in the midst of a thorough investigation of two very serious but unrelated incidents, the derailment in Bridgeport and the death of a worker in West Haven. Metro-North is fully cooperating with the independent agencies involved in the investigations now under way to determine of the causes so as to prevent future accidents.”
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