Some people in New York worry about the potential for their subway cars to derail when they go on elevated tracks. In the city, approximately 33 percent of the subway stops are located on elevated tracks. While it is possible for metro cars to derail, it is less likely than for trains that run on the ground.
Metro trains may derail if they take curves too fast or are switched to the wrong tracks. However, most of the signals are automated, meaning that errors that could lead to derailments are less likely to occur. Trains that run on tracks on the ground such as freight trains are likelier to derail than are the metro system trains. This is because they are heavier, and the soil may shift over time.
Metro trains are lighter and run on tracks that are not laid directly on the ground, making it less likely that they will derail. A few derailments have happened on the subway system over time, however. In 1905, one derailment occurred when a train was switched onto a curve on an elevated track by mistake, killing 13 passengers. Another derailment happened in 1923 when a two-car train derailed from an elevated track and killed eight people.
While the elevated portions of the subway system might make some people nervous, the likelihood of a derailment is very small. People who are injured in train accidents might want to talk to personal injury lawyers. Railroad workers who are injured might also want to talk about the possibility of filing FELA claims against the railroad companies. By filing claims, injured people may be able to recover damages so that they might be compensated for the losses that they have suffered.
Source: NY curbed, "How vulnerable are elevated subway trains to derailment?", Ashley Fetters, April 30, 2018.