Metro-North: Some Conn. track maintenance past due - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

Metro-North: Some Conn. track maintenance past due

Posted: Updated:

SUSAN HAIGH | AP

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A Metro-North Railroad official on Wednesday told federal regulators investigating a major derailment and a fatal accident in May that the commuter line is behind schedule on some of its maintenance, has not updated certain standards in years and is losing experienced welders to retirement.

Chief Engineer Robert Puciloski, who appeared at the National Transportation Safety Board hearing in Washington, D.C., said the railroad is "behind in several areas," including a five-year schedule of cyclical maintenance that had not been conducted in the area of the Bridgeport derailment since 2005.

"I cannot give you an answer as to how we got so far behind," said Puciloski, adding that Metro-North is working to get its maintenance work back on schedule.

Wednesday marked the start of a two-day hearing that includes testimony on several issues, including track inspections and maintenance, passenger car safety standards, crashworthiness, policy and practice of worker protection and organizational safety culture. The NTSB has said the determination of a probable cause for each accident will be released when the investigations are complete.

On May 17 in Bridgeport, an eastbound train derailed and was struck by a westbound train, injuring 73 passengers, two engineers and a conductor. Eleven days later, on May 28, a track foreman, Robert Luden, was struck and killed by a train in West Haven. Luden had requested that the section of the track where he was working on be taken out of service.

NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said following Luden's death the board issued an urgent recommendation to Metro-North that it use "redundant protection," such as a procedure known as "shunting," in which crews attach a device to the rail in a work zone. It alerts the dispatcher to inform approaching trains to stop. In June, Metro-North said it would start a pilot program using shunting devices.

Hersman offered Luden's family condolences from the NTSB.

"We know that nothing can replace your loved one," she said. "And our thoughts are with those who suffered injuries in the Bridgeport accident. Our goal is that throughout our investigation and our findings and recommendations we can prevent similar tragedies."

A major focus of the morning session of Wednesday's hearing was on a cracked joint, located near where the derailment took place. Puciloski said after a replacement joint was installed, a welding crew ground it down to a flat surface, believing they were complying with federal standards. But there was mismatch in the joint, he said.

Puciloski said the crews believed they had performed the task adequately, adhering to federal standards, but he said "there is no guidance indicating what the standard should be for a joint of that nature."

Puciloski also said that the railroad is losing "a lot of experience in Metro-North and the people who know how to weld to this level are retiring."

He said Metro-North is starting to develop a training program to boost its ranks of qualified welders. Also, Metro-North is reviewing its entire track inspection program since the two incidents, including how it inspects track and how often inspections should take place.


  • Connecticut NewsConnecticut NewsMore>>

  • Metro-North safety practices faulted

    Metro-North safety practices faulted

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 6:07 PM EDT2014-08-27 22:07:45 GMT
    The Metro-North Railroad has sacrificed safety for on-time performance, according to a report released Wednesday by a Metropolitan Transportation Authority panel. The report echoes an assessment conducted this year by the Federal Railroad Administration, which investigated after a string of Metro-North accidents including a December 2013 derailment that killed four riders in the Bronx.
    The Metro-North Railroad has sacrificed safety for on-time performance, according to a report released Wednesday by a Metropolitan Transportation Authority panel. The report echoes an assessment conducted this year by the Federal Railroad Administration, which investigated after a string of Metro-North accidents including a December 2013 derailment that killed four riders in the Bronx.
  • Conn. police dog memorial unveiled

    Conn. police dog memorial unveiled

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 3:40 PM EDT2014-08-27 19:40:50 GMT
    Connecticut officials have unveiled a memorial honoring state police dogs for their courage and sacrifice in serving the public.
    Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and other government and police leaders celebrated the new memorial outside state police headquarters in Middletown on Wednesday.
    Connecticut officials have unveiled a memorial honoring state police dogs for their courage and sacrifice in serving the public.
    Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and other government and police leaders celebrated the new memorial outside state police headquarters in Middletown on Wednesday.
  • Guns found near Conn. playground

    Guns found near Conn. playground

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 3:37 PM EDT2014-08-27 19:37:52 GMT
    Hamden police say they're trying to determine who hid two handguns near a playground at a child care center - a discovery that scared local parents. Police say a .22-caliber handgun and a 9 mm handgun were found hidden near the Keefe Center Playground as officers worked what they called a "crime suppression detail" on Sunday.
    Hamden police say they're trying to determine who hid two handguns near a playground at a child care center - a discovery that scared local parents. Police say a .22-caliber handgun and a 9 mm handgun were found hidden near the Keefe Center Playground as officers worked what they called a "crime suppression detail" on Sunday.
Powered by WorldNow

KTTV FOX 11
1999 S. Bundy Dr.
Los Angeles CA 90025

Main: (310) 584-2000
News Tips? (310) 584-2025

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices