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Speeches

Closing Statement - Board Meeting: Special Investigation Report on Organizational factors in Metro-North Railroad Accidents
Christopher A. Hart
Washington, DC
11/19/2014

In closing, I would like to recognize the hard work of the NTSB staff in producing this Special Investigation Report, and thank my fellow Board Members for their very helpful participation in the process.
 
In the report adopted today, we made many recommendations to Metro-North and to the MTA, intended to help the railroad and its parent organization advance safety and improve their safety culture.
 
We noted previous recommendations to the FRA that could have prevented these accidents, had the FRA acted. And we adopted further recommendations - not only to Metro-North, the MTA, and the FRA, but to others as well.
 
We have cast a broad net. For example, the derailment in the Bronx that took four lives could have been prevented by a requirement to screen for sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA.
 
We reiterated a May 2012 recommendation to the FRA to require safety-sensitive personnel to be screened for sleep disorders, and have now issued a similar recommendation to Metro-North Railroad.
 
We have also recommended that railroad associations and unions collaborate on a model national labor agreement to address sleep disorders - and other medical disorders - among safety-sensitive personnel.
 
And to promote understanding of these disorders in the medical community, we made companion recommendations to the American College of Physicians and the American Association of Family Physicians.
 
In the process of preparing this report, we noted a rising trend in incidents and accidents in passenger rail. Today's recommendations, in combination with those adopted during our investigations and earlier recommendations reiterated today, have the potential to reverse this trend - but only if they are acted upon.
 
Metro-North has already acted favorably on some of our recommendations. By so doing it has gone beyond what the FRA requires.
 
But the only way to ensure that similar safety measures are taken by all passenger railroads is for the FRA to require them. Only the FRA can provide the regulatory basis to improve passenger rail safety nation-wide, and we urge them to do so.
 
We stand adjourned.