Metro-North Responds to Federal Railroad Administration Safety Report
On Friday, March 14, 2014, MTA Metro-North Railroad President Joseph Giulietti held a press conference to respond to findings of a report put forward by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) looking into Metro-North's safety record. President Giulietti comment as follows:
“I want to thank the professionals at the FRA. The report that you’ve seen is deeply troubling and it raises real concerns. The issues that were uncovered at the time confirm my initial assessment of Metro-North’s culture and priority. 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.
“I take seriously each and every one of the report’s observations, recommendations and mandates. We are committed to work with the FRA and the NTSB to ensure that we heighten the safety awareness of everyone who works here. And we will incorporate as well the findings from the MTA’s Blue Ribbon Panel and the TTCI experts who have done analysis on our corridors.
“Again, there is a problem with the culture. As I’ve learned in the last 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.
“You have seen my draft 100-day plan. As I said, we will revise that plan and it will address the specific issues that the FRA has identified.
"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.
“We are improving how we inspect our tracks and equipment, and how we perform maintenance on the right of way. We are buying new equipment. We are hiring more staff. We are changing our management structure and we’re reaching out to our partners in labor – all to make this railroad as safe as possible.
“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 – the most modern type of train protection – as quickly as possible.
“Governor Cuomo and Chairman Tom Prendergast gave me a straightforward mission – to make changes at Metro-North to have a safe and reliable railroad. And that’s exactly what I will do. Tom Prendergast has had over 10 years working in the safety arena. I value his insight. I value his expertise and I value the support.
“Connecticut Governor Malloy and the Congressional delegation in New York and Connecticut all have high expectations but all have offered their unwavering support to make the changes that are necessary.
“FRA Administrator Szabo, the regional administrators who serve this area, the NTSB and our own MTA Blue Ribbon Panel are all providing valuable help as well.
“But this is not just Metro-North management. It will take each and every employee to work towards improving our safety culture.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us. But every problem I’ve seen here can be fixed – and will be fixed.
“The FRA report stated they are ‘encouraged by the many good employees who met with our Deep Dive teams … their dedication and desire to turn Metro-North into a safe, professional railroad serving the citizens of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.’
“This also confirms my initial assessment of this railroad. And we will continue hard until we achieve that goal.
“And I know I have the support of the management and the labor here in going for that, as they’ve all come forward in their efforts to say that they want to support this and move forward.”