A Manhattan-bound F train derailed south of the 65th Street station in Woodside last Friday, resulting in about 1,000 passengers having to climb through an emergency gate.
“Firefighters came and got us out of an emergency exit and we got out through that,” Danielle Ash, who was on her way to work in Manhattan, said. “They had us sitting there for a little bit but they got us out expeditiously and, as you can see, people are just trying to find an alternative way to get to the city.”
According to passengers, the train began picking up speed and suddenly came to a stop.
“It was really quick,” one passenger said. “We pulled off, picked up speed and then we stopped. No one thought anything of it until we had been sitting there for a while.”
The MTA reports the train derailed around 10:30 a.m. but passengers were not removed from it until 11:30 a.m.
“It was a little smoky down there and there were a couple of people having asthma attacks because they had been working themselves up,” Ash said. “The conductor was saying to stay calm and at first he said he didn’t know what happened but then told us it had been derailed.
“People were just concerned that it was hot, they wanted to get out and get where they need to be.”
It was not until some time after the incident that the MTA revealed a break in the rail was suspected for the derailment.
All cars except the first and last broke free of the rails on an express track. The area where the F train derailed is within one of five “critical rail break” zones that are slated for replacement in 2015 at the earliest.
The corridor of weak tracks runs along the Queens Boulevard line between 50th Street and 71st Street-Continental Avenue in Forest Hills.
According to the MTA, there were 205 broken rails between 2005 and 2012 in the Queens trouble zone.
Improvements the agency is looking to implement include welding tracks together. The majority of train tracks in the city are bolted together.
Ten people were transported to Elmhurst Medical Center for minor injuries and nine others were treated on-site for bumps and bruises.
There were also reports of several people suffering from panic attacks while underground.
Ash, who rides the F train on a regular basis, added that the train was moving rapidly but not at a pace that seems out of the ordinary.
It has not yet been determined if the train was speeding.
Delays lasted through the weekend and shuttle buses transported straphangers to and from the Queensbridge station on Saturday and Sunday.
Transit officers were on hand directing riders to shuttles and answering questions.
According to the MTA, trains will not run on the express line where the break happened until the track has been properly repaired.