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Rail News: Safety

NTSB calls on Metro-North to take action on recorders, speed signs

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) yesterday issued a series of safety recommendations to MTA Metro-North Railroad calling for the use of inward and outward facing audio and image recorders and the installation of approach permanent speed restrictions signs along right of ways.

The recommendations were developed from information learned during the NTSB's ongoing investigation into the Dec. 1, 2013, derailment of a Metro-North train in the Bronx, New York. A southbound train, consisting of seven passenger cars and one locomotive, derailed on the Metro-North Hudson Line near Spuyten Duyvil Station, causing four fatalities and dozens of injuries.

"The images and audio captured by recorders can be invaluable to our investigators," said NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman in a press release. "Understanding what is happening inside the cab just prior to a crash can provide crucial information about how to prevent future accidents."

The NTSB has been advocating for inward and outward facing recorders for investigation and oversight purposes since 2007, and has previously made recommendations to the Federal Railroad Administration and other railroads regarding the matter.

Although Metro-North had posted signs for temporary speed restrictions throughout its network, it did not use signage for permanent speed restriction areas including the area where the accident occurred, NTSB officials said. Since the accident, the railroad installed signage to aid operating crews at four locations with permanent speed restrictions, including the derailment area. However, NTSB officials believe that Metro-North should use a more systematic approach and install signage at all locations where permanent speed restrictions are in place.

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