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“Urgent” NTSB Recommendation To Metro-North

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A Metro-North train at the Bridgeport station. Photo by WTIC's Matt Dwyer.

A Metro-North train at the Bridgeport station. Photo by WTIC’s Matt Dwyer.

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The National Transportation Safety Board is continuing its investigation of last month’s collision of two Metro North trains,  and a fatal accident involving a maintenance crrew.  But the board has issued an urgent safety recommendation to Metro-North in the wake of the death of a track foreman struck and killed on the tracks in West Haven.

NTSB Chair Deborah Hersman says the accident, in which a passenger train travelling 70 mph hit the worker, shows current procedures are not effective.

The agency is urgently recommending “redundant” protection for maintenance crews.  backup signal protection for maintence crews who depend on train dispatchers to provide signal protection. (See the NTSB recommendations.)

The NTSB says the day of the accident a rail traffic controller and a student controller had taken the section of track out of service at the request of the maintenance foreman,   but the student controller reopened the track just over an hour later without approval of the regular controller or the foreman.

Even though Metro-North had put additional safety produred in place after a similar error in which an out-of-service track had been placed back in service, the new procedures did not prevent the fatal accident.

Instead, the NTSB is recommendinbg that Metro-North take immediate action to ensure the safety of work crews through a procedure known as “shunting,”  in which the crew attaches a device to the rails in a work zone, alerting the controller, and also giving a stop signal to approaching trains.

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