Today,U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Congressman Jim Himes (D-Conn.) released the following statement on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Metro-North Railroad's letter in response to their requests for a thorough investigation into the cause of the Bridgeport rail collision, and a robust final report to answer commuters' questions about the safety of the tracks. Last week, it was confirmed that there was a problem on the track in Bridgeport but it was not addressed by the MTA. In conversations and meetings with MTA since this was reported, Murphy, Blumenthal and Himes called on the organization to take immediate steps to confirm the safety of the tracks.
Connecticut commuters need assurance that the trains and tracks they ride everyday are safe. Recently, we learned that the MTA knew about an area of concern on the tracks near the site of the derailment in Bridgeport, but that did not lead to any further action. While it will be months before the NTSB releases its final report and recommendations, we have expressed concerns to the MTA that it needs to make changes to its safety protocols sooner. In response to our concerns, the MTA informed us that it has taken steps in advance of the final National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report to confirm the safety of the tracks--steps that include a top-to-bottom review and inventory of all its rail joints, as well an assessment of Metro-North's track management and safety procedures. MTA has also committed to cooperate fully with the NTSB investigation, and we have urged NTSB to complete a thorough investigation as quickly as possible. We appreciate the steps MTA is taking in response to our concerns, and we urge them to keep us updated on its progress. We will continue to press the NTSB to release a comprehensive and complete report as quickly as possible.
Full text of the MTA letter:
Dear Senators Blumenthal, Murphy and Representative Himes,
I appreciate your continued interest in the two very serious but unrelated incidents that occurred last month, the derailment and sideswipe in Bridgeport and the tragic death of Track Foreman Robert Luden.
Metro-North is fully cooperating with the National Transportation Safety Board's investigations into why these accidents occurred, and we are looking into what can be done immediately to make sure they do not happen again.
The safety of our customers and our employees is always the highest priority for Metro-North Railroad and ensuring that we take appropriate steps to identify and mitigate any problems is also of paramount importance.
Metro-North designs its track inspection program to comply with all relevant Federal guidelines and standards.
I wanted to inform you that we have taken a number of steps as a result of the derailment and fatality in advance of formal NTSB recommendations. These actions include:
Retaining Transportation Technology Center Inc., which is the internationally-renowned research affiliate of the American Association of Railroads to assess our track maintenance and inspection programs, and to
identify ways we can improve our efforts to maintain our right-of-way
Inspecting and conducting an inventory of all similar joints--no defects found
Increasing inspections of our right-of-way using specialized equipment on loan from other railroads
Exploring solutions to better protect railroad employees working in the right-of-way
Building in additional safeguards to our procedures in the railroad's operations control center regarding returning tracks to revenue service
Metro-North will continue to support the NTSB's investigation and will also implement any recommendations issued by them.
President, Metro-North Railroad