The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released their conclusions on the five New York rail accidents that occurred over a span of 10 months between 2013 and early this year. “All of these deaths and injuries were preventable,” said Christopher Hart, the NSTB’s acting chairman said at a press conference, according to USA Today (10.28.14).
The accidents resulted in six fatalities and injury to 126 others. The accidents were blamed on poor track maintenance, inadequate inspections and training, poor safety oversight and other “reoccurring safety issues,” said the NTSB press release. Hart said the accidents and deaths could have been avoided if the railroad had followed NTSB recommendations.
Four of the accidents involved Metro-North trains and one was a CSX derailment in the Bronx.
The series of accidents began with a Metro-North train derailment in Bridgeport, Connecticut that injured dozens on May 17, 2013.
In July 2013, a CSX train carrying garbage derailed on Metro-North tracks in the Bronx.
The worst accident occurred in the Bronx on Dec. 1, 2013, when a Metro-North train. The NTSB said the derailment that killed four people occurred when engineer William Rockefeller fell asleep, leaving the train to speed up to 82 mph before a sharp 30 mph curve. The engineer fell asleep because of undiagnosed sleep apnea. Hart said that the NTSB recommended 12 years ago that the Federal Railroad Administration require screening for sleep apnea, reported USA Today.
In West Haven, Connecticut where another accident occurred, a back-up track blocking system might have kept a train from killing track foreman Robert Luden in May 2013, even after a closed rail was accidentally opened to train traffic by a rail controller trainee.
The last of the accidents was the death of track worker James Romansoff in Manhattan on March 10. The NTSB concluded that he had accidentally gotten onto a track that was still being used by trains because workers were not properly briefed on which section of the track was safe to work on. His death came after the railroad had implemented a new program to prevent such tragedies, USA Today said.
During the news conference, Hart said Metro-North has taken steps to restore safety since the accidents, said USA Today.
USA Today said that the “culture of safety” suffered when maintenance “took a back seat to getting trains to the stations on time.”
Safety must be the most important value to the railroad. They owe it to their passengers as well as their employees. Everyone has the desire to be safe and not suffer an injury. Whenever a train accident occurs, there are many reasons to contact a lawyer who specializes in accidents caused by negligence.
Those railroad’s problems were detailed in thousands of pages of testimony and records released by the NTSB.
The USAToday article cited is “NTSB: N.Y. rail line deaths, injuries were preventable.”