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Cause of Connecticut train crash: Debris on the track? (+video)

An investigation is underway to determine what caused a New Haven-bound train to collide with a New York City-bound train in Connecticut on Friday night. Dozens were hospitalized following the crash on what is the busiest rail line in America, serving 125,000 commuters daily. 

By Karen BrooksReuters / May 18, 2013

Emergency workers arrive the scene of a train collision, Friday in Fairfield, Conn. Two trains collided. A New York-bound train leaving New Haven derailed and hit a westbound train. Some cars on the second train also derailed.

AP Photo/The Connecticut Post, Denis O’Malley

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FAIRFIELD, Conn.

Federal investigators on Saturday searched for the cause of a rush-hour train crash in Connecticut that injured dozens of people commuting home from New York City, three of them critically.

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Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, as well as officials are from the NTSB briefed reporters Saturday morning on a major train crash left dozens hurt.

More than 60 people were hospitalized Friday night after an eastbound commuter train derailed and collided with a westbound passenger train on an adjacent track near the Connecticut suburb of Fairfield.

Eight people remained hospitalized on Saturday, three in critical condition, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said.

The collision of the Metro-North trains forced Amtrak to shut down service indefinitely between New York and Boston.

The governor is encouraging commuters who normally use the line to find alternative ways to get to work on Monday.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators arrived at the scene on Saturday to determine the cause. There had been construction and repair work going on in the area and one question was whether debris was on the track.

"They can't rule anything out," said Malloy, adding that he wanted investigators to complete their work as quickly as possible so the busy commuter rail line could be reopened.

The eastbound train was headed to New Haven, Connecticut, when it collided with the train bound for New York's Grand Central Station.

NTSB officials said several cars had derailed, not an entire train.

Malloy said the train cars were new and "designed to the latest standards" for safety and protection of passengers.

"To the best of our knowledge, it is the first time that a car like this has been involved in this kind of incident and by all appearances they responded well," Malloy said. "One of the things you look at, for instance - did the seats become removed and that sort of stuff. It is going to take some more investigation. That is why they are here."

Metro-North is a commuter railroad serving the northern suburbs of New York City. It is operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, a New York state agency. Fairfield is about 50 miles (80 km) north of New York City.

The rail line serves a major corridor between Boston and New York. The New Haven line operated by Metro-North is the busiest rail line in America and serves 125,000 commuters a day, said Judd Everhart of the Connecticut Department of Transportation.

Malloy said the state Department of Transportation already has ordered the large equipment needed to remove the cars, which will be picked up and put on flatbeds to be taken to another location for further investigation.

(Reporting by Karen Brooks in Austin, Texas, and David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Doina Chiacu, Greg McCune and Eric Beech)

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