The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released its findings and recommendations from a 60-day safety assessment of Metro-North Railroad. The assessment, known as Operation Deep Dive, found that Metro-North's management "emphasizes on-time performance to the detriment of safe operations and adequate maintenance of its infrastructure, resulting in a deficient safety culture, increased risk and reduced safety on the Metro-North system."
The report requires Metro-North to submit plans to FRA within 60 days on how it will improve the effectiveness of its Safety Department and training programs.
“Safety is our top priority and this in-depth assessment should serve as a wake-up call to Metro-North as they work to make their operations safer,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Efficiency and on-time performance are important, but they cannot come before the safety of every passenger on board or those communities along the system.”
The report instructs Metro-North to take the following actions to mitigate risk and to begin a turnaround of the railroad’s safety culture:
• Effective immediately, Metro-North’s senior leadership must put safety front and center and communicate and implement that priority throughout its organization.
• Within 60 days, Metro-North shall submit to FRA a plan to improve its Safety Department’s mission and effectiveness, including providing appropriate in-person monitoring of field activities and personnel.
• Within 60 days, Metro-North shall submit to FRA a plan to improve its employee training, ensuring that it develops and implements an effective training program for all operating departments.
The assessment directs Metro-North to address 25 specific recommendations covering eight safety critical concerns identified by FRA, which include track safety standards, railroad operating rules, certification requirements for locomotive engineers and conductors, safety training for roadway workers and employees who maintain rolling stock, train control systems, operations Control Center and fatigue management for maintenance-of-way employees.
“Safety is and must always be a railroad’s number one priority,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo. “It is essential that Metro-North ensure a safety culture that clearly prioritizes safety first; the traveling public deserves no less.”