FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- In a report outlining work on a promise to make improvements in 100 days, Metro-North said it was making progress on repairing problems that have plagued the commuter rail.
Metro-North said set forth 32 initiatives in an attempt to improve safety, communications and reliability. According to the new report, 21 of the new initiatives have been fully implemented, seven are currently in progress, two will be put into action following independent reports from outside entities, and the remaining two will be ongoing, long-term priorities.
Saying the progress has taken longer than he would have liked, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in a statement said Metro-North is "taking a number of steps that will enhance the daily operations and make the railroad safer. But even with these changes, the MTA has much work to do to improve their performance.
“Even though the MTA held direct commuter forums in the state as I asked them to do, there is much more to do to implement a comprehensive and enhanced communications protocol with their customers and local officials. My administration will continue to work with them and to provide resources when appropriate so that riders can get the service they deserve."
Metro-North said improvements have been made in many areas, including enhancing track inspection and maintenance, installing alerters and video cameras in engineers’ cabs, beefing up the safety and training departments, expanding employee testing programs to ensure understanding of safety rules, creating a computer-based track worker safety system, and implementing a Confidential Close Call Reporting System.
“Metro-North has made major strides in the past 100 days, with concrete accomplishments that have made operations safer, established a safety culture, improved service reliability and expanded our communications,” President Joseph J. Giulietti said in a statement. “Our customers and everyone who relies on Metro-North have seen real accomplishments that have gone a long way toward restoring their faith in the railroad.”
Giulietti said safety is of utmost importance.
“Metro-North intends to maintain its infrastructure and rolling stock to the highest standards of safety and reliability,” he said. “This requires ensuring that we have established the appropriate inspection, maintenance and replacement plans and that we have the necessary resources to carry them out effectively. This will require ongoing funding, not only for Metro-North’s operating budget, but also for the railroad’s capital needs in New York and Connecticut.”
U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4th District) said he was taking steps to secure federal funding to replace the Walk Bridge in Norwalk, which has failed twice in recent weeks, disrupting train service.
“Metro-North’s leadership is taking steps in the right direction, but it still has much more work to do to improve the railroad's safety and efficiency," Himes said. "I'm pleased that the leadership is making some progress in changing a culture that tolerated poor performance and lax enforcement of safety procedures. But the service disruptions of the last few weeks show that Metro-North must act faster to improve its communications with passengers.
”I spoke with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx yesterday and urged him to expedite federal funding to replace Norwalk’s Walk Bridge and make other repairs on Metro-North’s New Haven Line.”