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Metra yesterday announced a new safety reporting system known as the "Confidential Close Call Reporting System," which is designed to enable employees of the Chicago commuter-rail agency to report safety breaches without fear of retaliation.Representatives from Metra's management team and several transportation unions yesterday met with officials from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to sign a memorandum of understanding committing to implementing the new system. "Safety is Metra's highest priority, and this new program is a major and exciting new enhancement to our safety efforts," said Don Orseno, chief executive officer of Metra. "We are particularly pleased with the enthusiastic cooperation of our labor unions, who have demonstrated their commitment to making Metra the safest possible railroad."The new system will allow employees to confidentially report "close calls," such as safety concerns or violations of operating rules, to a third party without facing sanctions from Metra or the FRA. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will function as the third party, removing any identifying details about the incident and then compiling the data.NASA has been operating a similar safety reporting system for aviation since 1976. Metra management, labor representatives and FRA officials will then work to analyze the data collected by NASA and recommend corrective action.A railroad that has already adopted the system has seen in a 31 percent increase in the number of cars moved between minor derailments, in addition to a 90 percent decrease in disciplinary cases, Metra officials said. They did not disclose the name of the railroad.