Federal Railroad Administration issues order for Metro-North to change crew protocol

Jim Hoffer has the story
December 6, 2013 3:24:11 PM PST
he U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today issued an Emergency Order to Metro-North Commuter Railroad to take specific, immediate steps to ensure its train crews do not exceed speed limitations.

Five days after the deadly derailment, the Federal Railroad Administration dropped the enforcement hammer on Metro-North.

The FRA issued a rare Emergency Order to immediately begin installing an automatic train speed control system on major curves on all three Metro-North lines, including at the now infamous Spuytin Duyvil bend.

Until that's completed, the railroad must have two engineers on each train.

"What they've asked them to do is put a civil speed enforcement circuit in each curve that they mention in the EO," said James Soteilli, FRM FRA Inspector.

As Eyewitness News reported earlier this week, this speed enforcement system mandated in Friday's Emergency Order has existed on New Jersey Path and Amtrak rail curves for years, yet for some reason Metro-North never installed it, even though the cost per curve is pennies per rider.

"I'm going to say $15,000 to $20,000, a few relays, a few transformers," Sotelli said.

In other words, a simple, inexpensive fix that begs the question, why weren't the speeding safeguards already in place?

"This would have prevented the accident had this been in place in the field," Sotelli said.

Four people were killed on Sunday after a Metro-North train derailed in the Bronx.

MetroNorth released the following statement:
"The MTA is working closely with the Federal Railroad Administration to review our policies and procedures in light of Sunday's tragic derailment, and we will of course comply with whatever requirements the FRA directs us to follow. We are examining many other possible steps we can take to improve the safety of our railroad operations, and will continue making every effort to enhance customer and employee safety."