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Monday, June 17, 2013

NTSB Urges Greater Safety After Metro-North Death

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The National Transportation Safety Board today issued an urgent safety recommendation to Metro-North Railroad to provide redundant protection for track maintenance crews who depend on train dispatchers to provide signal protection.

On May 28, a Metro-North track foreman was struck and killed by a Metro-North passenger train traveling at 70 mph in West Haven. The foreman had requested the section of track be taken out of service for maintenance.

Two Metro-North rail traffic controllers, one of whom was a student controller, placed the section out of service. But the student controller reopened the track a little more than an hour later without the appproval of the qualified controller or the foreman, the NTSB said.

Prior to this collision, on May 4, another Metro-North rail traffic controller mistakenly placed out-of-service track back in service. Two days later, Metro-North instituted additional operations control procedures, but these procedures did not prevent the May 28 fatal collision, the NTSB said.

“The procedures currently in place are ineffective.” said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. “Metro-North can take immediate action to ensure the safety of work crews on their tracks. Shunting tracks is simple, feasible and readily available.”

The NTSB said it is urgently recommending that Metro-North require redundant signal protection, such as shunting, for maintenance-of-way work crews who depend on the train dispatcher to control access to occupied sections of track. A shunt is a device that crews can attach to the rails in a work zone that alerts the controller and gives approaching trains a stop signal.

A link to the full recommendation and the letter to MTA Metro-North Railroad can be found at http://www.ntsb.gov/doclib/recletters/2013/R-13-17.pdf

Meanehilr, the NTSB said it is continuing to investigate the May 17 derailment and collision of two Metro-North trains in Bridgeport.

Posted 06/17/13 at 10:13 PM

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