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Blumenthal Statement On NTSB Investigation Of Metro-North

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, today released the following statement after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced the findings of its investigation of Metro-North and its five recent major incidents, including the Bridgeport derailment and West Haven accident that killed track worker Robert Luden.

“NTSB investigators paint a chilling picture of a railroad in turmoil and distress and a system in urgent need of reform. Most disturbing is the finding that the Federal Railroad Administration has been sitting on dozens of outstanding safety recommendations from NTSB, as well as mandates from Congress, that would have saved lives. This inaction is unacceptable, and has gone on for far too long, illustrating a coziness with industry and regulatory capture that must be broken. Now is the time for action. FRA, Metro-North and MTA are failing riders and rail workers as life-saving measures have remained unadopted. Safety is paramount in transportation, and too many lives are at stake for the status quo to continue to prevail.

“This investigation demonstrates – in alarming detail – how Metro-North’s failure to maintain track led to a crash in Bridgeport and a host of passenger injuries. It also describes how the railroad’s lack of proper management and oversight led to Robert Luden’s death in West Haven just days after the Bridgeport catastrophe, and it shows how a lack of safety culture within Metro-North allowed the railroad to overlook speed violations and sweep medical issues under the rug – factors that led to the deaths of four passengers and dozens of injuries at Spuyten Duyvil.

“This report offers a devastating portrait of MTA, too. Although the agency that is ultimately responsible for Metro-North and managing transportation properties throughout the region had an effective sleep apnea screening program for its subway workers, no such program was in place for Metro-North employees. Safety cannot be siloed. As NTSB concluded today, the passengers who died at Spuyten Duyvil would likely be alive if they were onboard a subway instead of a train, as the operator’s sleep apnea would have been caught.

“As we work to make our rails safer for passengers and workers, FRA, Metro-North and MTA have an obligation to act – particularly on all outstanding recommendations that will save lives. In addition to that necessary step, I will continue to push for Congress to consider my comprehensive rail safety bill.”