NEW YORK (PIX 11) – Trains are rolling along Metro-North’s Hudson’s line according to the regular schedules for Thursday morning.
The federal government has expressed “significant concerns” to the MTA after four incidents, including the fatal train derailment on December 1st and the death of a track worker in May.
In a letter to the MTA Chairman and the LIRR and Metro-North Presidents, the Federal Railroad Administration expressed condolences about the accident and said “immediate corrective action is imperative.”
“Not only have some of these incidents had tragic and catastrophic consequences, they have also eroded the public`s confidence,” the letter states.
The MTA was already planning a “safety stand-down” as ordered by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday. An agency spokesman says the discussions and meetings will not impact train or bus schedules. They will be held at different times for different departments.
The federal government has asked for a progress report by Friday.
The MTA is working to adopt a confidential close-call reporting system (C3RS) that allows employees to report concerns.
Anthony Bottalico, General Chairman of the Association of Commuter Rail Employees, said “human error is part of life.” He calls on railroads to provide additional back ups and safety triggers including circuits and alerts during emergencies or speed conditions.
The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 calls for all railroads to adopt “positive train control” (PTC) by December 2015. That is an advanced safety system that monitors speed and conditions. The MTA is moving ahead with what could be a $900 million dollar project.
Some lawmakers in Washington are considering extending the time requirement.
“Much of the technology is still under development and is untested and unproven for commuter railroads the size and complexity of Metro-North and LIRR, and all of the radio spectrum necessary to operate PTC has not been made available,” said MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan.
“The MTA will continue its efforts to install PTC as quickly as possible, and will continue to make all prudent and necessary investments to keep its network safe,” Donovan said.