Metro Magazine

JUL 2014

Magazine serving the bus and rail transit & motorcoach operations since 1904

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In June, the Federal Railroad Adminis- tration (FRA) announced it was launch- ing a 45-day, focused deep dive safety assessment of Chicago's Metra commut- er rail system in response to three inci- dents that took place over the course of two weeks. The FRA was set to focus on Metra's program of operational tests and inspec- tions for all its operating crews, with spe- cial emphasis on training, qualification and testing of locomotive engineers. "Safety is Metra's top priority. We are in the process of completing our own in- ternal investigations on these incidents," said Metra CEO Don Orseno. "Metra contacted the FRA to inform them of our actions. We are fully committed to work- ing with the FRA and welcome their re- view. We share a common goal of mak- ing commuter rail travel the safest mode of transportation." FRA investigators will focus on three recent incidents involving speeding and signal violations, which resulted in three Metra engineers losing their cer- tifications. During the course of the investigation, FRA inspectors were set to interview all affected employees, as well as review event recorder tapes and video record- ings, operations testing records, radio tapes and Metra's locomotive engineer qualifications certification program. Investigators will also perform a com- prehensive audit of Metra's program of tests and inspections for its operating employees that will analyze testing re- cords for 2013 and 2014; review training, qualification and competency of testing officers; conduct testing sessions with Metra officers; perform speed checks and conduct independent background reviews on Metra employees. In addition, FRA personnel were go- ing to meet with labor leaders and Metra employees to listen to their concerns re- garding these recent events. "In addition to our ongoing operation- al testing, we have directed managers to personally meet and review safety proce- dures with operating personnel and rein- force the importance of maintaining sit- uational awareness at all times," Orseno said following the FRA's announcement. He added that Metra also issued a safety bulletin to all operating employees, with its freight rail partners, BNSF and Union Pacific, also taking the same actions. The assessment is similar to "Oper- ation Deep Dive," the recent safety as- sessment conducted after a series of accidents on the New York Metropoli- tan Transportation Authority's Metro- North Rail Road. As a result of the investigation, Metro- North was directed to address 25 specific recommendations covering eight safety critical concerns in an effort to mitigate risk and to begin a turnaround of the rail- road's safety culture. In June, Metro-North issued a 100-Day Report on the Action Plan established by President Joseph J. Giulietti, which fo- cused the railroad's efforts on improving safety, restoring reliability and improving communications. Of 32 initiatives established in the Ac- tion Plan, 21 had been fully implemented by mid-June, with seven still in progress and two continuing to be pursued af- ter outside entities submit independent reports. Two more initiatives — imple- menting a "back to basics" plan for train reliability and service delivery and com- municating service delivery information to customers and elected officials — will remain ongoing, long-term Metro-North priorities, according to the report. "Our customers and everyone who re- lies on Metro-North have seen real ac- complishments that have gone a long way toward restoring their faith in the railroad," Giulietti said. "Our challenge is to keep this relentless focus on improve- ment that our customers expect." Major 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 test- ing programs to ensure understanding of safety rules, creating a computer-based track worker safety system and imple- menting a Confidential Close Call Re- porting System. The FRA completed its review of Met- ro-North practices in May, and its rec- ommendations are incorporated into the 100-Day Report. Two external reports, from the MTA's Blue Ribbon Panel and the National Transportation Safety Board, had not yet been submitted, but Metro- North has committed to implementing any recommendations from those entities that have not already been addressed. 8 < m ETRO m AGAZINE JULY 2014 metro-magazine.com metro news Following string of incidents, FRA 45-day Metra investigation to focus on safety Following incidents resulting in three Metra engineers losing their certifcations, the FRA launched a 45-day investigation similar to the one it completed in May of Metro- North Rail Road. Metra/Mark Llanuza

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