Poor Safety Standards Led to Accidents on Metro-North, Feds Say

By Janon Fisher on March 14, 2014 8:17pm 

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 A federal probe into Metro-North found a "deficient safety culture" had caused a series of high-profile accidents.
Metro-North investigation
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MANHATTAN — Pressure placed on Metro-North employees to make sure that the trains run on time created a "deficient safety culture" that led to a series of accidents on the commuter line, including last December's derailment that killed four people, according to a federal investigation.

Investigation "Operation Deep Dive" launched by the Federal Railroad Administration shortly after the train accident, studied maintenance, inspection and repairs, worker safety measures, communications, train dispatch and traffic control training, compliance with federal work-hours regulations, employee qualifications and other parameters.

Federal railroad investigators found that there was too much emphasis keeping to timetables, "an ineffective Safety Department and poor safety culture," the FRA reported. Metro-North also lacked an effective training program.

Since May 2013, there have been four major accidents on the railway:

► On May 17, 2013, two trains collided outside Bridgeport, Conn., during a derailment, injuring more than 50 people.

► On May 28, 2013, a train in West Haven, Conn., struck and killed a maintenance worker.

► On July 18, 2013, a CSX Transportation freight train derailed crossing into Manhattan from The Bronx.

► On Dec. 1, 2013, investigators said William Rockefeller, the engineer on a train traveling into Manhattan from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., derailed while taking a turn too fast. In addition to the four people killed, more than 70 were injured.

As a result of the federal probe, Metro-North's president, Howard Permut, resigned.

On Friday, the new Metro-North President Joseph Giuillietti acknowledged the system's failure and promised to try to change the railroad's culture.

“Safety was not the top priority. It must be. And it will be. I have a clear message for our customers and our employees: Safety must come first at Metro-North. I will not allow any Metro-North trains to run unless I’m confident that they will run safely," he said.

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