NEW YORK (PIX11) – Two U.S. Senators are criticizing Metro-North Railroad.
“This is at least the second time where human error, poor planning and a lack of back-up power have caused a significant breakdown on the Metro-North railroad,” said Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). “Whether it is safety or repair work, Metro-North owes its commuters an explanation and has to get its act together.”
Federal investigators are already conducting an official probe. It was established after the fatal derailment in December.
The Federal Railroad Administration calls it “Deep Dive” and crews are supposed to be at headquarters and command centers reviewing railroad operations.
“Operation Deep Dive needs to dive deeper,” said Senator Schumer.
“Last night’s failure was unacceptable, pure and simple,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. “The project should have been analyzed for risks and redundancy before it began, and it should not have been performed when thousands of customers were trying to get home in cold weather,” said Prendergast.
The system lost power around 7:45 p.m. as technicians worked on a main power supply unit at the control center in Grand Central Terminal. The MTA said the crew did not realize that a wire was disconnected on the other main power supply unit. Human error is being blamed.
Prendergast says he advised Metro-North to bring in third-party consultants to figure out why errors were made and how to correct them in the future.
“Metro-North customers deserve better, and I extend my sincere apology to all of them,” said Prendergast.
The service disruption halted more than 50 trains and caused them to go dark.
The MTA says no customers were in danger. Customers were able to get off trains when they reached the closest station. Trains were running by 9:30 p.m. and fully functional by 10:30 p.m.
Metro-North Railroad Commuter Council Chair Randolph Glucksman said “The major service disruption of last evening does not indicate that the riders were given proper consideration in planning maintenance work. We look forward to the results an independent review of the incident, as was directed by MTA Chairman Prendergast.”
Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy called the outage “totally avoidable and frankly, unfathomable given that it occurred due to inappropriate actions on the part of Metro-North.” He has asked for a meeting with MTA Chairman Prendergast and the incoming Metro-North President.