Metro-North Announces Safety Reforms After December Crash

By Ben Fractenberg on May 15, 2014 5:04pm 

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 Metro-North announced safety reforms Thursday, including  new systems for training workers, inspecting tracks and reducing train speeds.
Metro-North Safety Reforms
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MIDTOWN — Speed reductions, automated track inspections and employee safety exercises are some of the reforms Metro-North has instituted after the deadly December crash that killed four riders, the agency announced Thursday.

The new safety procedures were instituted after a Federal Railroad Administration investigation found that "deficient safety culture" led to a series of accidents, including the deadly Dec. 1 crash in which conductor William Rockefeller dozed off and took a tight turn in Riverdale at 82 mph — more than 50 mph over the speed limit.

“Safety is the top priority for Metro-North Railroad, above even on-time performance,” Metro-North Railroad President Joseph Giulietti said. “For our part, we have rolled up our sleeves and gotten to work immediately to make these critical improvements a reality.”

The reforms include quarterly safety exercises where more than 8,000 employees will discuss safety protocols with supervisors and managers.

Additional reforms:

  • Reducing maximum authorized speeds so no train will be required to slow down more than 20 miles per hour. New signal systems were also put in place at five curves and moveable bridges.
  • Two-thirds of the Metro-North fleet was outfitted with “alerters” equipment, which ensures engineers are responsive while operating trains.
  • Instituting positive train control to automatically stop or slow trains before a crash occurs.
  • Using machine vision track inspections to augment visual inspections.

The actions were a response to the March 14 FRA report outlining more than 27 ways to improve train safety, according to Metro-North.

The agency added it has completed 14 of those suggestions and is working on five more. It has developed training strategies for the remaining eight, which are being carried out “starting immediately.”

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