The report by the Federal Railroad Administration’s “Operation Deep Dive” safety review at Metro-North is a scathing indictment of years of neglect and mismanagement at the railroad.
This brief report confirms our worst suspicions about Metro-North:
On-time performance was the top priority, not safety.
Training for new hires has been inadequate.
Management has not been enforcing safety rules about things as simple as “no cell phone use” on the job.
Railroad workers are fatigued because too many are working lucrative over-time shifts because of unfilled staff positions (that also fatten their pensions).
Metro-North managers are conducting mandated surprise inspections of locomotive engineers, testing their knowledge and observing them on the job.
It is one thing to solve the safety and maintenance issues by finding more funding, and that must be done. But a far greater challenge is changing the operational “culture” at Metro-North to instill safety as job one and hold every employee accountable.
The FRA is to be commended for this report … the first of its type and the first time any U.S. railroad has been so intensely studied. Now it’s Metro-North’s job to fix what’s wrong … and the CT DOT’s job to be sure they get it right.
—Jim Cameron, longtime commuter advocate and founder of the Commuter Action Group