Metro-North is improving, but work remains

MTA Metro-North Railroad is making progress in improving its safety culture and service reliability, railroad President Joseph Giulietti told the Connecticut General Assembly’s Transportation Committee earlier this week.

Giulietti’s remarks to Connecticut lawmakers followed a series of high-profile accidents and service disruptions over the past two years. In a recent letter addressed to Metro-North customers, Giulietti outlined the reforms implemented and underway.

“Metro-North is committed to the goal of rebuilding the railroad’s organizational culture and its physical plant so that safety is the foundation of everything we do. Every decision and change that has been made since I became president last year has been made to advance safety,” said Giulietti’s message, which is posted on the railroad’s website.

Although the railroad has “accomplished a lot, we are fully aware that a lot of work remains to be done,” Giulietti wrote.

Among the organizational and workforce reforms, Metro-North has communicated to all its employees that operating safety — not on-time performance — is the railroad’s primary focus; implemented a confidential close-call reporting system; reorganized and enhanced training; and added new positions to the Maintenance of Way Department, including a vice president of engineering.

Reforms related to rebuilding track include the hiring of the Transportation Technology Center Inc. (TTCI) to assess Metro-North’s infrastructure and its maintenance procedures. Overall, TTCI identified 146 items to evaluate or implement; of these, 127 have been implemented or are in progress, Giulietti said.

Additionally, the railroad’s signal system has been modified to allow allow automatic speed control in 10 critical areas, and the railroad has implemented a pilot program to identify key employees such as train engineers with sleep apnea.

Future improvements in the works include the installation of video/audio recording devices in rail cars, autonomous track geometry measurement systems on rail cars, and positive train control. A PTC pilot program is set to begin on the New Haven and Hudson lines this year.

“Rest assured that these current and past reforms are just the start of a comprehensive effort to rebuild the railroad’s organizational culture and its physical plant so that safety IS the foundation of everything Metro-North does,” Giulietti’s letter concluded.

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