Subway FAQ: Accidents

From nycsubway.org

A list of some subway accidents.


02/13/2009. Just after 1:00pm, a Coney Island bound "D" train derailed at the 81st Street/Museum of Natural History station on the IND 8th Avenue Line. An MTA official says that "approximately two cars were derailed" (WCBS-TV). Passengers were loaded onto another train that pulled up behind the derailed one. The rescue train took them to the West 125th Street/St. Nicholas Avenue station. The A and D trains were put into local service between 125th Street and 59th Street stations while C train was suspended along the entire length of its run. It is believed that 500 people were on board the IND train. According to a report from WABC-TV's website, a broken rail was reported at the station, but it is not known if that countributed to the accident. (Thanks to David Harris for the report.)

05/04/2008. A Brooklyn bound "N" train derailed at the 57th Street/7th Avenue station on the BMT Broadway Subway. Passengers were evacuated from the derailed train with a rescue train. The passengers came to the surface at the 5th Avenue station. There were no serious injuries as a result of this accident. N service was suspended in both directions between Queensboro Plaza and Times Square, Bay Ridge bound R trains were re-routed via the "F" line between 36th Street (Queens) and Herald Square. A shuttle train was put into service between Queensboro Plaza and Ditmars Blvd. NYC Transit says the train's operator and motorman will receive blood alcohol testing. (Thanks to David Harris for the writeup.)

11/06/2007. Bumper block overshoot at Chambers Street, 11/6/2007. As the R42 fleet is being prepared for scrapping, the four pairs of R42 cars were sent to the 207th St. yard scrap line instead of being repaired, even those with only relatively minor damage. Cars involved: 4624-4625, 4730-4731, 4786-4787, 4818-4819.

04/29/2007. At 4:06PM on April 29th, 2007 two NYCTA track workers were struck by a Queens bound G train at the Hoyt-Schermerhorn Street station. One of them was killed by the train while the other was sent to Bellevue Hospital for treatment. His injuries were serious in nature. Service on the G train was suspended until 7:42PM that evening. Five days earlier (April 24th) at 11:20PM, a track worker was killed on the 7th Avenue IRT near the Columbus Circle station. He was struck by a 3 train while setting up flagging lanterns. With the exception of completing the work that was already in progress at the time of the incidents, track work was suspended. Work resumed on May 4th at 8:00AM. During the suspension, MoW workers were retrained on safety procedures.

wimg_27002.jpg> 10/25/2000. Out of service train rear-ends another stationary out of service train on middle track of Jerome Ave (#4) line at Fordham Road. Lead car of rear train (#1370) head end damaged; second car of rear train (#1369) is completely wrecked, due to jackknife at center of car. No passenger injuries. (full photo.)

06/21/2000. B train derails at DeKalb Ave. Brooklyn, around 10:00 pm. Approximately 70 people injured. First three cars of southbound train jumped the tracks south of DeKalb requiring approx. 70 feet of track to be replaced. Service was restored by 6:00 am the next morning.

04/12/2000. A #5 train derails near 59th St. at end of rush hour. Thousands of riders are stranded in the disabled train for hours while a second train is sent to pick them up.


wimg_27089.jpg> 02/03/1998. Accident on 239th Street Yard lead- collision between two trains. Cars involved 1391-1400; 8832-8833, 8912-8913, 8980-8981, 9152-9153, 9154-9155. No passenger injuries. (full photo)

wimg_5802.jpg> 11/20/1997. A Jamaica-bound R train rear-ends a G train in a tunnel near the Steinway Street station in Long Island City, Queens. There were no serious injuries were reported among the approximately 40 victims, who mainly suffered minor head and neck injuries. All of the injured were treated and released. The cars, which were estimated traveling at about 10 miles per hour at the time of the collision, suffered only limited damage. (full photo).

07/14/1997. A Flatbush Ave. bound #2 train derailed south of the Franklin Avenue Station at the point where the Nostrand Avenue Line branches off from the Eastern Parkway Line. Service was shut down on the #2 between Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush Avenue and on the #4 from Franklin Avenue to New Lots Avenue. Of the 120 people on the train, only three were injured. The consist was (s) 9203-2, 9087-6, 9073-2, 9052-3, 8885-4 (n). R-33 8884 was wedged into the wall and cut up on the spot. Its mate 8885 was converted to a work car.

07/03/1997. At 10:20 pm a Queens-bound A train derails under St. Nicholas Avenue in Harlem, just north of the 135th Street Station as it is going over a switch. Mayor Giuliani reports: "It's an absolute miracle no one was killed or seriously injured. What I saw was unbelievable. The last car as smashed in half, just ripped apart." 15 people were injured and service on the A and D was terminated at 59th Street and C service suspended entirely. The Transit Authority was forced to run shuttle trains on the D from 205th to 161st Street in the Bronx, and on the A from 207th Street to 168th Street, in conjunction with shuttle bus service.

wimg_6070.jpg> 11/24/1996. Derailment south of Hunts Point Avenue (Pelham line) on Track M. Car 1716 repaired and returned to service. 1909 was a total writeoff due to mid-carbody damage. (full photo)

08/13/1996. A Brooklyn-bound D train of R-68s derailed while it was pulling out of the DeKalb Avenue station in Brooklyn. There were no injuries among the 350 passengers. It has not been determined if track work in the area of the derailment caused the incident. This was the first derailment of 1996, and the seventh since 1991.

08/22/1995. 18 people were injured when a 6 train bypassed a red signal and struck another train stopped at Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall station, New York state investigators said.

wimg_5459.jpg> 06/05/1995. Major collision on the Williamsburg Bridge. At about 6:12 am a Manhattan bound M train which had stopped near the Brooklyn tower of the bridge was hit from behind by a J train. The motorman of the J train, on his final run of an overnight shift, was killed and over 50 passengers were injured. The M train's consist was (s) 4622-3,4611-0,4587-6,4665-4 (n) . The J train's consist was (s) 4461-0, 4489-8, 4536-7, 4452-3 (n). The ends of cars 4461 (J train) and 4664 (M train) were demolished. Cars 4460, 4489-8 received moderate damage. Investigators conclude that the J train ran a red signal at high speed, and that the spacing of signals and poor performance of the trains brakes contributed to the crash. (full photo)

02/09/1995. An M train carring no passengers smashes into a Manhattan bound B train near the Ninth Ave. station in Brooklyn. The motorman and 6 people aboard the B train suffered minor injuries. Investigators blame the motorman of the M train, who intentionally "keyed by" a red light - a procedure that allows him to bypass it - before accelerating around a sharp curve and into the B train.

12/21/1994. Edward Leary explodes homemade bomb that sent a fireball whooshing through a subway car, injuring himself and 47 others. The crude bomb went off while the subway train was parked in a station.

09/28/1994. A work train rear-ended another work train on the IRT line at Graham Ave. in Brooklyn. Investigators determined that the motorman, who had worked 16 hours straight in violation of Transit Authority regulations, passed two stop signals.

08/15/1994. 11 people are injured when the last car of a southbound B train derails near Ninth Avenue in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and slams into a tunnel wall. Someone in a control tower mistakenly activated a switch to send the train from the local to the express track, while the train was passing over it, and a mechanism designed to prevent that from happening failed.

10/07/1993. At 5:20 AM a Manhattan bound L train collided with another L train in the Graham Avenue Station. The Manhattan bound train was composed of eight R-42's , (W) 4882-3, 4905-4, 4892-3, 4915-4. The train in the station was composed of eight slant R-40's (W)4427-6, 4431-0, 4437-6, 4416-7. 45 people are injured. Officials find that the motorman of the rear train intentionally "keyed by" a red signal.

wimg_7661.jpg> 08/28/1991. Five people are killed and more than 200 injured when a southbound No. 4 train derails going over a switch just north of Union Square. Service on the Lexington Avenue IRT, was disrupted for six days as transit workers toiled around the clock to clean up the wreckage. The motorman, Robert Ray, who was drunk and going more than 40 mph where the speed limit was 10 mph, is later convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years in prison. It was the worst subway accident in 63 years. (Photo courtesy New York City Transit) (full photo)

12/28/1990. Electrical fire in tunnel near Clark Street, Brooklyn kills two and injures 188.

07/26/1990. 36 people are injured when a B train rear-ends an M train in Borough Park, Brooklyn.


wimg_5695.jpg> 06/18/1989. An A train derailed on a crossover north of 59 Street-Columbus Circle. R-44 215, the seventh car in the train hit the retaining wall and was badly damaged. R-44 281 received some light damage. The consist was (s) 374-375-333-208-284-281-215-176 (n). (full photo)

wimg_5737.jpg> 04/25/1986. "The motorman, Alick Williams, 54 years old, of St. Albans, Queens, suffered a heart attack, apparently causing the IND train he was operating to derail in a tunnel near the 179th Street station in Jamaica, Queens, at 11:10 P.M. ... [he was] turn[ing] the train around on a relay track near the end of the F line [when he] crashed into a wooden barrier at the end of the tunnel. Mr. Williams... was trapped in the wreckage of the first car, [and] was pronounced dead at the scene. A conductor who was in the fourth car of the eight-car train was unharmed. There were no passengers on board." -- New York Times, 4/27/1986. (full photo)

07/03/1981. A subway motorman was killed and more than 135 passengers were injured when an IRT train crashed into the rear of a train stopped in a Brooklyn tunnel.


wimg_3348.jpg> 11/24/1979. Rear-ending accident at Morris Park, Dyre Avenue line. (full photo)

05/18/1978. R-33s 9014-9015 were slightly damaged in a derailment within 207th St. Yard.

05/22/1975. Collision on the center track of the Astoria Line near 30th Avenue (Grand Avenue) Station. R-30s 8507 and 8545 were badly damaged. The car bodies were reportedly transported by truck to the Corona Yard. (They must have been removed from the el by crane.) The damaged end of 8507 was cut off and transported to the Coney Island Yard. R-30 8507 was later scrapped but 8545 returned to service around June of 1977. The mate of 8507, #8506, ended up part of the Transit Museum collection.

wimg_12893.jpg> 10/25/1973. Fire in master controller unit of car 9203, in Pelham line tunnel near Longwood Avenue station. Fire also affected car 9224 which had a large floor section cut out during firefighting (it was subsequently scrapped). The following train ended up rear-ending the disabled train due to low visibility caused by the smoky fire. (full photo)

10/04/1973. Southbound #4 train derails near Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, around 10:00 pm. All four tracks closed due to subsequent fire. Service restored around midnight. Consist: s-8756-7,6620,6677,7615,6632,7600,7128,6226,5998-n.

09/12/1973. A southbound #3 train derailed south of Borough Hall, Brooklyn, at 4:45 pm. Consist: s-7319,5966,5967,5975,7305,5748,5718,8610-1-n.

08/28/1973. A 20 foot long chunk of a concrete ceiling duct in the Steinway Tunnel near 1st Avenue hit the first car (R36 9759) of a Queens bound 7 train at about 4:50 PM. One person in the first car was killed, 18 injured. "One man died and 1,000 passengers were trapped in 115-degree heat and heavy smoke yesterday after an archway in the ancient Flushing line tunnel under the East River collapsed on the first car of a Queens-bound IRT train."--New York Times.

08/23/1973. A northbound #2 train derailed in the Clark Street tunnel heading toward Manhattan at 12:08pm. Full service was not restored til the next day. Consist: n-8793-2,5823,5859,7693,7081,8735-4,8711-0-s.

08/11/1973. "State of the Art" SOAC cars derail during testing at US DOT test track in Pueblo, Colorado. Train rams standing freight cars alongside test track; the operator is killed. The cars seriously damaged but rebuilt and arrive in New York City for testing on April 18, 1974.

08/06/1973. Southbound #4 train derails at Rogers Junction, Brooklyn at 6:15am. Service resumed by 10:00 am. Consist: s-8910-1,8718-9,7133,8956-7,8789-8,7633-n.

05/18/1973. A northbound #5 Lexington Av Express derailed south of Grand Central-42 Street Station about 10PM. The first eight cars of the ten car train derailed. The consist was (n) 6239,7912,7771,7093,6633,7733,5822,6598,7071,7260 (s). Car 6239 sideswiped the wall and car 7771 hit the northbound local rail. #6239 is now part of the Transit Museum collection; #7771 is now a school car at Rockaway Parkway (Canarsie) Yard.

01/06/1971. Accident at 59 Street/Colombus Circle involving R-10 #3283 hitting R-42 #4798 on NB crossover.

08/01/1970. Tunnel fire near Bowling Green kills 1, injures 50. The one death occured when a woman, who returned to the train to retreive her purse, died of smoke inhalation.

07/17/1970. An Manhattan bound E train keyed by a red signal north of the Hoyt-Schmerhorn Street and rammed a halted A train, injuring 37. The E train consisted of 10 R-6�s, (n) 986-1161-1183-1318-1055-1141-944-958-905-1136 (s). The A train consisted of 10 R-10�s, (n) 3065-3173-3076-3309-3234-3327-3089-3080-3338-3133-3062 (s). Cars 986 and 3062 were damaged.

wimg_5308.jpg> 05/20/1970. An empty Brooklyn bound GG train running on the southbound local track (D1) crashed into another GG train west of Roosevelt Avenue that was crossing from the southbound express track (D3) to the southbound local track (D1). The empty GG had left Continental Avenue at 7:13 AM and developed brake trouble. Passengers were discharged at Woodhaven Boulevard and the first two cars were cut out. The motorman then operated the train from the third car with the conductor signaling with a flashlight from the front of the train. Because of the stalled train southbound EE and GG trains were routed to the express track (D3) and then crossed back over to the local track (D1) west of Roosevelt Avenue. The home signal tripper on the local track (D1) was working but as the empty train was running with the first two cars cut out it did not engage the trip cock in time. The empty train rammed into the train crossing over to the local track between the 6th and 7th cars. Two passengers were killed and 77 injured. The motorman, conductor, and an inspector were held responsible by an inquiry. The consist of the empty train was (s) 4501-0, 4043-2, 3992-3, 4548-9 (n). Note that this was a mixed consist of R-38, R-40M and R-42. R-40M 4501 was badly damaged. The rerouted GG train had cars (s) 6344-6492-6318-6469-6304-6468-6315-6355 (n). 6304 was so badly damaged that she was cut up on the spot. 6468 was moderately damaged. The other six R-16s were back in service in a week. (full photo)

02/27/1970. An IRT train hit a bumper at the Pelham Bay Park station (Bronx), injuring 7. An inquiry found that the train apparently came into the station too fast.


wimg_2782.jpg> 12/29/1969. A southbound IRT train derails near east 180th St. in the Bronx, injuring 48. An inquiry found that the motorman misread a signal and failed to slow his train. Car 5815 cut up and scrapped on spot. (full photo)

05/04/1965. On May 4, 1965, a work crane fell from the IRT New Lots El on the center track where it ends near the portal beyond Utica Ave. One man was killed and some were injured and service was suspended from 2 AM until about 8 PM. A shuttle was operated between New Lots Ave. and Junius St. and passengerswere given transfers to a shuttle bus or to the BMT Canarsie line. Cars involved were: Crane 20149-ex-102, Low-V's 20376-ex-5496 (badly damaged), 20251, 20273, 2038O, 20294 and Flat S-75. --NY Division ERA Bulletin, June 1965.

wimg_8182.jpg> 04/21/1964. Suspicious fire at the Grand Central shuttle platform destroys several train cars including the "SAM" test train 7509, 7513, 7516. See: IRT Times Square-Grand Central Shuttle (full photo)

09/12/1963. A Navy jet crashes into the Coney Island Yards after being struck by lightning around 9:30 pm. The pilot, Lt. William A. Gerrety, bailed out and landed in a parking lot a few blocks away on Avenue U. The plane was an A-4D single jet fighter. It landed in a clear area at the south end of the yard. The debris caused no damage to trains except a few broken windows.

11/28/1962. A railroad crane toppled off a 40-foot-high IND elevated track onto a street in Coney Island, killing three men.


09/26/1957. NY Times Headline: "MOTORMAN KILLED IN SUBWAY CRASH; His Empty IRT Train Rams Into Another in Bronx-- 3 Hurt in BMT Mishap Riding on Middle Track. A subway motorman was killed yesterday morning when his empty ten-car train crashed into the rear of another empty train. The accident occurred on the elevated section of the IRT Broadway-Seventh Avenue line at 230th Street, the Bronx."

04/19/1957. NY Times Headline: "65 HURT IN CRASH OF SUBWAY TRAINS ON BROOKLYN LINE; Accident Occurs on the IND Near Myrtle Avenue Station With Hundreds Aboard CREW MEN ALLAY PANIC Passengers Led to Safety on Catwalk--Motorman Is Rescued From Cab Suffers a Crushed Leg."

06/19/1955. Two Sea Beach express trains collided at Stillwell Ave. in the only known accident involving Triplexes. Units 6043C and 6078 A and B suffered extensive damage and were scrapped. 6078C was grafted onto 6043B and renumbered 6043C. The number of injuries and/or fatalities is unknown.


08/27/1938. IRT collision at 116th Street kills 2, injures 51.

08/24/1928. Derailment in Times Square kills 16, injures 100.

08/06/1927. Two bombs explode, one in the 28th St IRT (Lex Line) station and the 28th St (B'way) BMT station. "[The bombs] injured many persons, one of them it was believed, fatally." (NYT 8/6/1927).

11/01/1918. A dispatcher, filling in for striking motormen, loses control while entering the tunnel at Malbone Street (Empire Boulevard) and 97 are killed, with 200 injured. (The worst accident in subway history.) See: Malbone Street Wreck (New York Times, 1918)

10/03/1918. The New York Times of October 4, 1918, reports: "A train of empty cars southbound on the elevated extension of the subway halted not far from Brook Avenue, the Bronx, to allow for switching about 5 o'clock yesterday morning. The passenger-filled train following stopped behind it at the Jackson Avenue station. While the two trains were stopped a local train which left 180th Street at 4:50 o'clock bound for South Ferry, ran by the signal at the north end of the Jackson Avenue station and crashed into the train ahead. Two persons were killed and about twenty-eight were injured. Many of the passengers were thrown from their seats and showered with broken glass. ... Charles Bulkleu Hubbell, Chairman of the Public Service Commission, went to the scene... This is what Chairman Hubbell found: 'It seems that the front the train was a five-car train standing at the south end of the station where it would normally stop. The "trip" stop at the north end of the station "tripped" the rear train and would have stopped it before collision if the motorman had been reducing his speed sufficiently to make his required stop at this station. Back of the trip signal at the north end of the station was a caution signal set against the train. The cause of the accident, of course, lay with the motorman of the rear train who had stopped at Prospect Avenue and took on and discharged passengers at that point. The schedule time from that stop to the Jackson Avenue station is only a minute and a half.' Mayor Hylan wrote Mr Hubbell a letter in which he advocated a rearrangement of the automatic stops so that if a train attempts to enter a station, at high speed or in disregard of signals it will be stopped befire it has a chance to collide with any train that happens to be in the station. To this Chairman Hubbell replied giving the Mayor the cause of te accident as the commission found it. 'Your suggestion as to the relocation of the automatic signal will be given careful consideration' he wrote and to this he added this information: 'I have ascertained that the motorman, who was killed, had been on duty about five hours, as he had gone on duty at 12 o'clock midnight after sixteen hours off duty'".

Page Credits

Sources: Electric Railroaders' Association New York Division Bulletin, Associated Press, The New York Times, New York Daily News, Newsday, NY1, WCBS-AM.

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