Metro-North plagued by thousands of defects since 2003: Report

After a union official said Tuesday that the engineer operating a derailed train was dozing before the fatal crash, the National Transportation Safety Board removed the rail union from the investigation.
Credit: Reuters

A spate of accidents along the Metro-North system, including December’s fatal derailment, prompted a series of recent investigations despite more than 7,100 defects found along the commuter rails since 2003.

An open records request by Hearst Connecticut Media found that broken joint bars and loose or missing braces that hold tracks down were all reported by 2013, before the tragic Dec. 1 derailment in the Bronx that resulted four deaths.

A spokeswoman for Metro-North told the paper that the thousands of incidents found over a 10-year span may seem excessive but are “not unusual in the industry.”

Inspectors also reportedly found conductors operating trains without required certification, broken passenger seats, missing passenger safety equipment and defective switching devices.

“Metro-North is focused on safety as its top priority,” Metro-North said in a statement Monday. “Going forward we are reassessing all aspects of our operations to ensure that safety is the first and foremost priority with every train we operate.”

Late March, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the Metro-North system, finished installing a new signal system that forces conductors to slow down as they pass 10 critical curves and movable bridges.

Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter @chestersoria



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