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Schumer to MTA: Start testing LIRR engineers for sleep disorders

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is calling on Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Prendergast to "quickly" begin sleep disorder-testing of Long Island Rail Road's (LIRR) engineers.

Schumer stated late last week that MTA should not wait for a deadly accident before implementing a program to test engineers for sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. While MTA developed such a program for its New York City Transit train operators after a light-rail accident in Boston in 2008, and for its Metro-North Railroad engineers after a fatal accident in December 2013, MTA has not yet developed a comparable testing plan for LIRR, Schumer said in a press release.

The National Transportation Safety Board recommended that the Federal Railroad Administration require all railroads to screen for and treat sleep apnea more than a decade ago, the senator noted.

"There should be no delay in starting a pilot program for testing LIRR engineers who may suffer from obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, which could put thousands of daily commuters at risk if undetected," Schumer said. He made his request in a letter sent to Prendergast last week.

The senator praised Metro-North for moving forward with its plan to screen 410 engineers and undergo an initial screening for sleep apnea. Engineers recommended for additional screening will undergo more testing, and if needed, will be referred to sleep specialists for additional treatment.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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