"The issues that were uncovered at the time confirm my initial assessment of Metro-North's culture and priority," he stated. "Their professionals actually had more time than I had, so it was invaluable to me and necessary for me.
"And part of my 100-day plan was that I needed to hear from the professionals that were involved and that report has affirmed what we already felt were the issues going forward.
"Safety was not the top priority. It must be. And it will be. I have a clear message for our customers and our employees: Safety must come first at Metro-North. I will not allow any Metro-North trains to run unless I'm confident that they will run safely. We at Metro-North are heartbroken at the loss of life that has occurred on this railroad – most recently one of our employees in the past week."
He said Metro-North is committed to working with the FRA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to ensure that the railroad heightens the safety awareness of every employee and that it will incorporate the findings from the MTA's Blue Ribbon Panel and the TTCI experts who have done analysis on its corridors, as well.
"Again, there is a problem with the culture. As I've learned in the past month, it's not just a problem with one or two departments. Culture develops over years. And it will take time to change culture, as well," he explained. "We will improve how we train our employees and how we monitor their performance. We are reorganizing our Safety Department. We have agreed to and are creating a confidential close-call reporting system so that employees can report safety issues without fear of reprisal."
He said Metro-North is improving how it inspects tracks and equipment, and how it performs maintenance, which includes buying new equipment. Additionally, the railroad is hiring more staff, changing the management structure and reaching out to partners in labor.
"We are asking our board for permission to move forward on installing cameras in all our trains, as the NTSB has recommended. And we will install Positive Train Control as quickly as possible," he noted. "We have a lot of work ahead of us, but every problem I've seen here can be fixed, and will be fixed."