Metro-North derailment sparks rules review, while engineers speak out

N.J. Burkett has the details.
December 12, 2013 4:38:55 PM PST
Federal regulators are ordering railroads all over the country to review rules, while fellow engineers are speaking out for the first time since the deadly Metro-North derailment.

The Federal Railroad Administration issued an industry-wide safety advisory Wednesday. It ordered railroads to brief employees on the circumstances of the Dec. 1 Metro-North derailment and train them on the importance of speed limits.

The directive also says railroads should remind workers about the importance of communication between crew members, including during long periods of inactivity.

Metro-North conductor Mike Shaw says the last ten days have been a struggle, but many riders have been sympathetic.

"We have a job? pretty much did that," conductor Mike Shaw said. "A guy just said to me? driving my car."

The early morning crash at Spuyten Duyvil left four passengers dead and dozens injured. Engineer William Rockefeller later told investigators he drifted off and lost focus, before speeding into a sharp turn at 82 miles-per-hour.

In their first public comments, his fellow engineers defended Rockefeller, while acknowledging that staying alert can be a challenge.

"We all just can't believe that it has happened on the railroad," John Kotalik, Metro-North engineer, said.

"We're all devastated. We're only human," engineer Mike Bellucco said. "We try to focus on staying focused."

Bellucco said fail-safe improvements like automatic braking systems are long-overdue.

"The positive train control could have prevented this," he said.

Some riders we spoke with said the engineer's actions are unforgiveable.

"I don't think there's an excuse for that," said one passenger.

But others are more forgiving.

"It happens, sad to say," said another passenger.

(Some information from the Associated Press)