June 10, 2014

FRA launches 45-day Metra investigation

Photo courtesy Amtrak_russ

Photo courtesy Amtrak_russ
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is launching a 45-day focused deep dive safety assessment of Chicago’s Metra in response to three incidents that have taken place in the last two weeks.

The FRA will focus on Metra’s program of operational tests and inspections for all its operating crews, with special emphasis on training, qualification and testing of locomotive engineers.

The assessment is similar to “Operation Deep Dive,” the recent safety assessment conducted after a series of accidents on Metro-North Rail Road that serves Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.

As a result, 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 railroad’s safety culture.

“Safety is Metra’s top priority. We are in the process of completing our own internal investigations on these incidents,” said Metra CEO Don Orseno. “Metra contacted the FRA to inform them of our actions. We are fully committed to working with the FRA and welcome their review. We share a common goal of making 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 certifications. During the course of the investigation, FRA inspectors will:

  • Interview all affected employees.
  • Review event recorder tapes and video recordings.
  • Review operations testing records.
  • Review radio tapes.
  • Review Metra’s locomotive engineer qualifications certification program.

Investigators will also perform a comprehensive audit of Metra’s program of tests and inspections for its operating employees that will:

  • Analyze testing records for 2013 and 2014.
  • Review training, qualification and competency of testing officers.
  • Conduct testing sessions with Metra officers.
  • Conduct independent background reviews on Metra employees.
  • Perform speed checks.

In addition, FRA personnel will meet with labor leaders and Metra employees to listen to their concerns regarding these recent events.

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