A federal agency said Friday that Metro-North Railroad has a "poor safety culture," overemphasizing on-time train performance and inadequately training track inspectors.
The Federal Railroad Administration's wide-ranging review of Metro-North safety, submitted to Congress, found that employees used cell phones on the job and that track is sometimes poorly maintained. Workers were also pressured to rush when responding to signal failures.
Operation Deep Dive, the investigation that yielded the report, was launched after a Metro-North train derailed in the Bronx on Dec. 1, 2013, killing four.
The report, intended as an "urgent call to cation to Metro-North's leadership," asks for the railroad to submit a plans to improve safety and its training program within 60 days.
Among recommendations made in the report are shifting the railroad's focus from timeliness of trains to safety.
"Senior leadership must put safety front and center, and communicate and implement that priority throughout the organization. This action must be taken immediately," the review states.
Railroad president Joseph Giulietti said in a statement that the FRA "recommended significant improvements" that are taken seriously by Metro-North.
"Metro-North is taking aggressive actions to affirm that safety is the most important factor in railroad operations, and we welcome the FRA's continued involvement to help Metro-North establish a consistent safety-first culture throughout the railroad," the statement continued.
Metro-North is the country's second-largest commuter railway system. Last year, there were three other major accidents before the fatal Bronx derailment.
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