• West Side Collision - May 22, 1967

  • Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.
Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.

Moderator: Otto Vondrak

  by shlustig
I was recently reminded that the awful West Side Collision occurred 50 years ago.

For those of you not familiar with this accident, it was a head-on collision on the West side Line on Manhattan between DV and W. 72nd St.

Due to numerous errors, outbound ND-5 with 4-units & 75 cars was cleared to depart on Tk. #1 after inbound NY-4 with 4 units and about 20-cars had received train order authority to operate inbound on Tk.#1. Both trains were apparently doing about 35-40mph at impact with only a few seconds and short sight distance to observe each other. Both head-end crews (3 men each) were killed in the collision and most of the units were destoyed in the collision and subsequent fire.

The ICC Accident Investigation Report is available on-line.
  by BR&P

A terrible day indeed. The poor crews never had a chance. And the brother of one of them was also killed in a collision a few years earlier.
  by Cactus Jack
Some place I've seen pictures on the internet of this wreck. Pretty bad.
It now reminds me of the head on at Dobbs Ferry circa 1980? with an Amtrak turbo and a Conrail 2800 series GE. Don't recall the details but I'm sure Sheldon was there at the time.

Here is a link to a photo of the 1967 wreck: http://www.railpictures.net/photo/171855/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
  by ExCon90
If the 1980 wreck is the one I'm thinking of (when the operator at OW failed to place a blocking device), with both trains headed towards each other on track 2, the radio on the turbo wasn't working, but the engineer saw a signal drop as he approached, and knowing that would most likely mean only one thing, applied his brakes immediately; the Conrail engineer received the radio transmission and did likewise, and the speed of both trains had been reduced considerably by the time they collided. I think the damage was minimal and everyone survived. (Ironically, in view of occurrences in recent years, the whole thing was caused by a suicide on Track 3 which resulted in the shuffling of trains.)
  by Allen Hazen
Re: "head-on collision on the West side Line on Manhattan between DV and W. 72nd St"
Where is DV?

(Review of Geography: the West Side line entered Manhattan via a movable bridge at the Hudson River (i.e. West) side of the extreme northern prong of Manhattan. It was above ground down to about 121st street (so, for about 4 or 5 miles), then in tunnel under Riverside Park down to 72nd street: 72nd Street is the southern end of Riverside Park. The yard extended south from the tunnel portals under the West 72nd Street access to the West Side Highway. Not sure when it was torn down, but historically there was a yard tower at the north end of the yard, just below the roadway. Going by the buildings visible, I'd say the photo Cactus Jack links to was taken at about 142nd street.)
  by Noel Weaver
We were not allowed to forget this terrible event at every annual rules class both on the New York Central and the New Haven and later Penn Central. Just for memories I decided to see what job I worked on that fateful day. I was the regular fireman on 140 and 143 from New York (GCT) to Danbury and return. On May 22, 1967 we met train 141 at Bethel Lower Siding (regular move) the Danbury which the regular fireman never showed up and I went right back to New York where I had the option to get back to Danbury somehow. I took a NYC Harlem train to Brewster and got a ride to Danbury, it was profitable but when I got back it deteriorated. The job was the only job in New York that went to Danbury but I wanted to learn the Danbury Branch and I was on this job for several months accomplishing what I wanted to do. On Sundays the job worked the Pittsfield job 138 and 147 and occasionally there was no fireman to relieve me at Danbury on 138 and I ended up going through to Pittsfield which was even better. The engineer out of NY was mayor of Danbury around that time and was a great person to work with.
more memories
Noel Weaver
  by ExCon90
Allen Hazen wrote:Re: "head-on collision on the West side Line on Manhattan between DV and W. 72nd St"
Where is DV?
DV is located just north of the Harlem River, right at the junction with the present Hudson Line at Spuyten Duyvil. (On PC I half expected it to be renamed SPIKE, since that's what it was often called, but it didn't happen.)
  by Allen Hazen
ExCon90 -- Thanks! I suspected that was where it would be, since that's where the line down the West Side of Manhattan branches off from the main line, but it's good to have confirmation.
Since the time of the accident a Sanitation Department pier has been built at about the site of the photo: garbage gets translated from tucks to the Department's ships there for water transport to … somewhere. The pier has a multi-story structure, with a playground on the roof: access from Riverside Drive by a pedestrian bridge which goes over the West Side Line very close to the site of the photo.