News — July 14, 2017 at 6:02 am

Radio silence: Source says straphangers waited longer for help on snarled No. 7 train because of dead zone


A file photo shows a No. 7 train leaving a station. On Wednesday, riders on a No. 7 train heading to Grand Central Station in Midtown got snagged in an undwerwater tunnel when the subway’s emergency brakes engaged.

Tunnel vision, meet tunnel hearing.

An inability to communicate made the Wednesday morning breakdown of No. 7 train service at Grand Central worse than it had to be, a transit source said Thursday.

The snarled No. 7 line wouldn’t have taken so long to clear if crews had been able to communicate with one another over the radio, the source familiar with the incident told the Daily News.

A transit official told the MTA there was a radio dead zone in the underwater tunnel to Grand Central, where the train couldn’t move because its emergency brakes were inexplicably activated, the source said.

That lack of communication kept transit workers from bringing back service as fast as possible, according to the source.

A transit supervisor walking the tracks toward the train also reported radio communication with the Rail Control Center began to “disintegrate” in the tunnel.

“Poor radio reception, especially in an under-river tube, is a major safety problem,” the source said. “This problem has been going on for years throughout the system and is bordering on negligence at this point. In a worst-case scenario, such as a fire, poor radio reception can mean the difference between life and death.”

Transit workers have long griped about dead zones, which not only can delay repairs, but also keep crews from getting information about delays they can relay to riders. That’s one reason train passengers so often hear the annoying and useless catchall phrase “train traffic ahead.”

The first report of the No. 7 train coming to a halt from the emergency brakes snafu hit rail control at about 9:15 a.m. A Metropolitan Transportation Authority alert said service was back up at 10:22 a.m.

One train tied up by the brake problem was carrying a press aide to Mayor de Blasio, Jessica Ramos, who complained on Twitter about the ordeal.

It’s still unclear what triggered the train’s emergency brakes.

MTA officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the dead zone/communication problem and whether or how it could be resolved.

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