"Operation Deep Dive" Concludes Metro-North Has a "Poor Safety Culture"

Mar 14, 2014

The Federal Railroad Administration says Metro-North "emphasizes on-time performance to the detriment of safe operations."
Credit PhillipC / Creative Commons

The Federal Railroad Administration has issued a series of recommendations to improve what they describe as the "poor safety culture" at Metro-North.

After a series of high profile accidents on Metro-North in 2013, including December 1st train derailment in the Bronx that killed 4 people and injured more than 70, the Federal Railroad Administration launched "Operation Deep Dive", a sweeping investigation of Metro-North's operations and safety compliance procedures.

"Operation Deep Dive" released their findings on Friday -- and they bluntly concluded that Metro-North has an ineffective safety department and safety culture; an ineffective training program affecting all facets of Metro-North, and according to FRA administrator Joseph Szabo, an overemphasis on on-time performance. "Metro North was not doing good testing on the main line to ensure compliance with speed restrictions, radar testing," said Szabo in a conference call Friday Morning, "and so, there were all these buildup of things that clearly indicated that rather than make the commitment to executing practices properly, you stayed away from the main line and anything that might delay operations."

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal puts the blame for Metro-North's woes on the incompetence of senior management. Blumenthal said "It really is a searing indictment of sustained, serious failings. It shows a litany of safety lapses rooted in bad management"

The FRA has given Metro-North a 60-day deadline to submit plans to improve safety and training programs, as well as an immediate priority to place safety above all else. Metro-North's new president, Joseph J. Giulietti, says the railroad is already taking "aggressive actions" to assure that safety is its top priority.