Federal experts will spend the next two months examining safety compliance and safety culture at a commuter railroad that operated a train that derailed and killed four people this month.The effort will assess a broad range of practices at Metro-North Railroad, the nation’s second-largest commuter railroad, including oversight of engineers, fatigue management programs and medical requirements for crew members, the Federal Railroad Administration said on Dec. 12.
“This in-depth investigation will help ensure that Metro-North is doing everything possible to improve its safety record,” U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said.
Metro-North spokesman Adam Lisberg said the railroad is “always happy to work with anyone who has good ideas about how to keep our customers and our employees safe.” But he added that Metro-North has been engaged in its own comprehensive look at safety since May, when 76 people were injured in a derailment in Connecticut and a track foreman was struck and killed by another train.
In this month’s accident in the Bronx, the National Transportation Safety Board found that the train that derailed was going 82 mph as it entered a curve that has a 30 mph speed limit. Representatives of the train’s engineer say he may have momentarily lost focus at the controls.
Last week, the railroad agency ordered Metro-North to identify places in its system with major speed changes, put an extra worker in the engineer’s cab on some routes and overhaul its signal system. On Dec. 11, it issued an industry-wide safety advisory, telling railroads to immediately brief employees about the derailment and emphasize the importance of speed limits.
The 60-day assessment begins this Monday. It also will examine compliance with federal regulations, equipment maintenance, traffic controller training and protection for employees, the FRA said. A report with recommendations will follow, it said.
Metro-North operates trains in and out of New York City into suburbs upstate and in Connecticut. More than 280,000 riders board its trains on an average weekday.
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