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Prevent Train Accidents and Improve Safety, Say NY and CT Reps

A recent Associated Press story revealed that some members of Congress have introduced a bill to improve safety for those working on and riding commuter railroads in the New York City area. Four Connecticut and New York representatives announced what one of them called "common sense modifications" designed to improve safety for workers and passengers. The need for such change was prompted by the recent deaths of one track worker in Connecticut and four passengers in the Bronx when a speeding train derailed.

The recommendations include:

  • All control cabs must have automatic fail-safe devices.
  • Carriers must develop fatigue risk plans.
  • Commuter lines must monitor and report on progress in implementing a train control system within 180 of the legislation being enacted.

The proposed bill also requires the secretary of transportation to develop and require redundant signals for employees working on the tracks and ensure that all workers have predictable and well-defined work schedules.

The National Transportation Safety Board released a report after the Bronx derailment that revealed the engineer to have a sleep disorder. It further states that the engineer had revealed that he felt "dazed" right before the crash. When the train hit a curve, it was going 82 mph in a zone with a 30 mph speed limit. At least 70 people were hurt in the accident in addition to the four who died.

The Metro-North railroad has reported that it is retiring or retrofitting passenger cars that do not possess alerters, expanding the line's fatigue management program, and increasing the use of technology that controls train operations and protects track workers.

Despite Metro-North's statements, one Connecticut legislator suggested that the line could have made the improvements before the death of the track worker last May or the derailment in the Bronx in December last year. He noted that Metro-North could have made the improvements at any time, but had failed to act until workers and passengers died in train accidents.