Honorable Deborah Hersman, NTSB Board Member

Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman
National Transportation Safety Board
Closing Remarks
Washington, DC - November 7, 2013
Investigative Hearing in connection with two Metro-North accidents:
Bridgeport train derailment on May 17, 2013 and West Haven collision death of Metro-North track foreman on May 28, 2013


All of the witnesses have now testified, so this hearing on the NTSB investigation into the May 17 derailment and collision at Bridgeport, Connecticut and the May 28 fatal injury to a track foreman at West Haven, Connecticut is concluded.

On behalf of my fellow Board members and the NTSB staff, we extend our appreciation to the participants at this hearing. I thank each of the witnesses for their testimony, and the parties and the party spokespersons for their cooperation not only at this hearing but throughout the investigation. In particular, I appreciate everyone’s flexibility as we had to reschedule this hearing due to the government shutdown.

I'd like to acknowledge the NTSB investigators, legal staff, Office of Communications and others from throughout the agency who worked hard to support this hearing. Their commitment and positive attitude, despite the recent shutdown, made it possible to keep this hearing on track. Today, we have added greater clarity to the facts and circumstances of these two tragic accidents.

The transcript is scheduled to be available within 7 days of completion of the hearing and will be made available to the parties and witnesses electronically. Any corrections to the transcript by witnesses or parties should be sent to the Hearing Officer, Mike Flanigon, within 30 days - December 9, 2013. Any documents or information identified during the hearing that a party agrees to furnish to the NTSB should also be sent to the Hearing Officer within 30 days - by December 9, 2013.

The archive of the hearing webcast will remain on the NTSB website for several months after the hearing. The transcript of the hearing and all of the materials entered into the record will become part of the public docket, along with other records of the investigation.

Our investigation is ongoing, and we will continue to work diligently to finalize our report. This hearing has been critical for us to understand the culture and climate that existed at the time of these accidents; to help us understand decisions, procedure, and actions. Far too often we see a tragedy preceded by opportunities missed and warning signs ignored. By learning how to identify those precursors and, perhaps, by educating others with what we find in our investigations, we can break the chain of events.

Metro-North has undertaken significant steps to improve its infrastructure and safety management on its railroad. We know that the FRA, Volpe and the Transportation Research Board have sponsored research and supported pilot projects on enhancing safety culture in rail operations, such as risk identification, collaborative problem-solving, root cause determination, peer-to-peer coaching and confidential close call reporting, and a number of railroads are implementing programs to strengthen their safety culture. Safety culture is a continuum that requires constant calibration and management leadership. It is our hope that this hearing and our subsequent final report will provide critical viewpoints to Metro-North and, importantly, to the entire rail community that is responsible for moving millions of people every day, safely and efficiently.

We stand adjourned.