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3/6/2014



Rail News: Passenger Rail

Connecticut Gov. Malloy 'disappointed' with lack of details in Metro-North action plan


MTA Metro-North Railroad has prepared a 100-day action plan that requires the railroad to "rebuild a culture of safety," Metro-North President Joe Giulietti said in a letter to Connecticut state officials.

But the letter outlining the plan, which Giulietti promised in a Feb. 17 meeting with Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, was disappointing for not including enough specifics on how the railroad plans to improve its safety record, Malloy said in a press release.

Giulietti, on the job for just three weeks, unveiled the action plan in a March 3 letter to the Connecticut Department of Transportation. In the letter, he describes several steps the railroad will take to restore safety and service reliability.

Metro-North is undergoing government reviews and investigations for incidents that occurred over the past year, including a derailment in Bridgeport, Conn., in May 2013, and an accident in the Bronx in December that resulted in four fatalities. The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating that accident, and in December, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) began a "Deep Dive" initiative involving a 60-day safety assessment of Metro-North. Also, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), Metro-North's parent, established a Blue Ribbon Panel on Safety to address the railroad's recent safety record.

 "I understand the constraints that Metro-North faces because of the FRA investigation, and while the letter is certainly a roadmap to better and safer service, riders need to know that there is a plan with benchmarks and deadlines in place," Malloy said.

The governor expects to hold the railroad and MTA to their commitment to implement the 100-day plan by June 11, "and I fully expect many actions to be completed in advance of that date," he said.
 
In his letter, Giulietti said he anticipates the Deep Dive initative and MTA panel reviews will be completed "soon," and the NTSB investigations will likely be completed in fall. Also, after the Bridgeport incident, the Transportation Technology Center Inc. was retained to assess and improve track maintenance and inspections. Metro-North also undertook a "comprehensive right-of-way improvement program" to address track conditions on all three lines, Giulietti's letter states.

"The mere promise of a safer, more reliable service is not enough; Metro-North must develop concrete plans and actions and deliver on them," Giulietti wrote. "This 100-day action plan is an important first step. … Our priorities are simple. We need to operate safely. We need to start communicating better. We need to bring back Metro-North's legendary on-time performance."




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