The Malbone Street Wreck, also known as the Brighton Beach Line Accident of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company (BRT), was a rapid transit railroad accident that occurred November 1, 1918, beneath the intersection of Flatbush Avenue, Ocean Avenue, and Malbone Street, in the community of Flatbush, Brooklyn. The BMT Brighton Line is a Rapid transit line of the B Division of the New York City Subway in Brooklyn, New York City, United The Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company (BRT was a Public transit Holding company formed in 1896 to acquire and consolidate lines in Brooklyn and Queens A rapid transit, underground, subway, elevated railway or metro(politan system is an electric passenger railway Events 996 - Emperor Otto III issues a deed to Gottschalk Bishop of Freising which is the oldest known document using the name Ostarrîchi Year 1918 ( MCMXVIII) was a Common year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common Flatbush Avenue is one of the major avenues in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. Flatbush is a community of the Borough of Brooklyn, a part of New York City, consisting of several neighborhoods Brooklyn (named after the Dutch town Breukelen) is one of the five boroughs of New York City. At least 93 individuals perished, making it one of the most deadly train crashes in United States history (Cudahy 1999). The United States of America —commonly referred to as the
The wreck occurred the evening of November 1, 1918 at 6:22PM, during the last days of World War I. Events 996 - Emperor Otto III issues a deed to Gottschalk Bishop of Freising which is the oldest known document using the name Ostarrîchi Year 1918 ( MCMXVIII) was a Common year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common An elevated train, consisting of five cars constructed primarily of wood, entered the tunnel portal beneath Malbone Street, negotiating a curve designated to be taken at six miles per hour (9. 6 km/h) at a speed estimated at between 30 and 40 mph (48-65 km/h). The trailing truck of the first car derailed, and the two following cars completely left the tracks, tearing off their left-hand sides and most of their roofs. The first and fourth cars sustained relatively minor damage, while the second and third cars were severely damaged, the third so badly that it was dismantled on the spot. The fifth suffered no damage at all. The motorman was not injured and left the scene of the accident.
The Malbone Street Wreck was not caused by any single event or failure, but a series of individual circumstances, the omission of any one of which might have prevented the accident or at least reduced its severity.
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE), representing some of the motormen operating elevated trains of the BRT, went on strike from the company on the morning of November 1 over issues involving union organization and the discharge from employment of a number of BLE members. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE was a labor union founded in Marshall Michigan on May 8 1863 as The Brotherhood of the Footboard a year later its name This created a shortage of motormen to operate the system.
The train operator, then known as the motorman, was Edward Luciano, a crew dispatcher with light experience operating elevated trains, who was pressed into service during the strike emergency. He had never operated an elevated train in passenger service before. He was not familiar with the Brighton Beach Line, and his only experience moving trains was parking non-revenue trains in a train yard a year earlier. He had been taken over the line earlier by a motorman-instructor as part of his two hours of training prior to the disaster. Normally a motorman in that era received sixty hours of training before being allowed to control a revenue generating train.
The train was operating at a speed of at least 30 mph where it should have been operated at 6 mph or less in the section of track it was in when it derailed. The motorman stated during his interrogation that he had attempted to slow the train, but the subsequent investigation of the wreck indicated that no attempt to engage the emergency brake had been made and that he had not attempted to reverse the train's motors. Witnesses interviewed by the New York Times also stated that the train had not slowed approaching or in the S curve until the cars left the tracks. In the minutes leading up to the wreck, the motorman had difficulty timing the train's progress, overshooting multiple stations.
The single-track tunnel in which the wreck occurred had been opened only weeks prior to the accident. It consisted of a sharp reverse curve designed to take Coney Island-bound trains of the Brighton Beach Line around a new mainline which was then under construction. Previously, these trains entered Prospect Park through an older tunnel, which provided a straighter direct route.
The train consisted of three motor cars and two trailer cars. The motor cars were about twice as heavy as the trailer cars, and the trailers were significantly more top-heavy, especially with a passenger load. Standard procedure was to never couple two trailer cars together, but to always have a single trailer between two motor cars. The heavier motor cars provided stability for the lighter trailers. In the Malbone Street wreck train, two trailers were coupled together, and it was these two cars that sustained the bulk of the damage, both physical and human.
Without certain of the elements above, the wreck would probably not have happened. If the BLE strike had not occurred, Luciano would not have been assigned to that train. A BRT official had the tired Luciano take out that additional train run after he had served a full shift. If the train had been properly made up, the wreck might still have occurred, but with probably significantly less severe damage and loss of life. If all of these things had occurred shortly before November 1, the motorman would not have been forced to negotiate such a sharp turn.
The BLE struck, but they were entitled to do so. They did not represent all the motormen on the BRT, and there was no realistic claim of sabotage against them.
The BRT tried to keep service running with non-striking personnel, which included men in other unions, including the company union as well as other personnel, and made the decision to use Luciano, a crew dispatcher. A company union, business union or pejoratively a yellow union is a Union which is located within and run by a Company, and is not affiliated Dispatchers are communications personnel responsible for receiving and transmitting pure and reliable messages tracking vehicles and equipment and recording other important information There is no report that he had made other mistakes prior to the accident, though he had to negotiate difficult conditions, including other sharp curves and running on the street where other traffic and pedestrians would have added to operating hazards. He was switched onto the wrong line at the junction prior to the final approach to the tunnel, but that was due to his train lacking proper signals to inform the switch tower operator which route the train was to take. Luciano had to reverse his train in order to take the proper route, but this was done "by the book" without further incident.
In the present day, a struck transit system ordinarily closes down in an orderly fashion until the strike is resolved. But in 1918, the BRT would likely have been more criticized for not attempting to keep the system running, absent the accident.
New York City Mayor John F. Hylan and his administration placed blame on the BRT, bringing both Luciano and company officials to trial for manslaughter. John Francis Hylan ( April 20, 1868 &ndash January 12, 1936) nicknamed "Red Mike" was the Mayor of New York City However, all the defendants were acquitted or had the indictments eventually dropped. One official received a hung jury and was not retried. A hung jury is a Jury that cannot agree upon a Verdict after an extended period of Deliberation and is deadlocked with irreconcilable differences of
The prosecutorial focus required the BRT to present a coherent defense on behalf of both its officials and Luciano. The prosecutor is the chief legal representative of the prosecution in countries with either the Common law Adversarial system, or the civil law Because of this, neither the proximate cause of the wreck nor the excessive speed of the train has ever been adequately explained. Luciano testified on his own behalf, contending that he was in control of the train, but the train didn't respond properly, a claim belied by the BRT's own physical examination of the equipment, which showed that the brakes were in good operating order, were not placed in "emergency" application, and that other means of slowing or stopping the train, such as reversing the motors, had not been done. Since his defense focused on these contentions, other issues that could have caused him to operate the train at speed were not examined, such as his state of mind, a desire to make up time because of the earlier switching problems or his understanding of the route on which he was operating.
The accident placed more pressure on the BRT to remove wooden equipment from routes that operated through tunnel sections or in subways, though this use was already limited, and though the fact, in itself, that the cars were structurally made of wood may not have affected the severity of the accident. That notwithstanding, wooden cars returned to use in the tunnel for another nine years, and cars of partial wooden construction remained in elevated service until 1969.
Additional safety devices were added to the subway and elevated system over the years, including more effective dead-man's controls to halt runaway trains, and signalling and automatic trackside devices called trippers or train stops to reduce the likelihood of trains operating too fast for conditions. A dead man's switch (for other names see alternative names) as its name suggests is a switch that is automatically operated in case the Human operator becomes incapacitated Part of a railway signalling system a train stop or trip stop (sometimes called a tripper) is a train protection device that automatically
The three motorized cars involved in the wreck, 725, 726 and 1064, were repaired and returned to service. The severely damaged trailers, 80 and 100, were scrapped.
The Malbone Street tunnel in which the wreck occurred continued in daily passenger operation for 40 years, although it was no longer part of the main line after 1920. The tunnel today is part of the BMT Franklin Avenue Line and is used occasionally for special moves. The BMT Franklin Avenue Line (also known as the Franklin Avenue Shuttle and the Brighton-Franklin Line) is a Rapid transit line of the New York City
In the wake of the tragedy, Malbone Street was renamed to avoid bad connotations with the name. Malbone Street was changed to Empire Boulevard, a name it still bears today.
Similar accidents involving sudden very sharp curves include: