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Metro-North Railroad 100-Day Action Plan

Summary version pending final input from Federal Railroad Administration and MTA Blue Ribbon Panel

Overview

Each initiative must support one or more of four areas of intense focus. These areas are:

  • Promoting a Culture of Safety - To create a culture in which safety is embedded in all decisions, actions and initiatives.
  • Adopting Concrete Safety Enhancements - To develop and implement programs that guarantee safe operations and safe work practices
  • Restoring Reliable Service - To provide customers with train service that is not only safe but reliable and of a high quality.
  • Improving Communications - To ensure that customers are kept fully informed as to the railroad’s goals, operations and policies so that they can make informed choices when riding our service. To ensure that employees are fully informed as to the railroad’s goals, operations and policies so that they can provide the best customer service possible.

 We continue to develop key initiatives in support of these areas. Select initiatives and their implementation dates follow.

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Promoting a Culture of Safety

Action Item

Completed

  • Recreate the Safety Department so that its sole focus is developing, implementing and enforcing safety policy and initiatives. This reorganization will be completed by June 1 and will include further development of the following new units:
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    A Data Analysis Unit to support decision making. Negative trends can be identified and improved and positive trends can be expanded.

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    An Incident Investigation Unit to lead investigations into the root causes of accidents/incidents and monitor corrective actions/status of recommendations. This group will work closely with subject matter experts from the Operations Division.

  • Develop a new Corporate Safety Policy clearly articulating the importance of Safety and identifying the roles of each department in reestablishing Safety as Priority One.
  • Review and completely overhaul MNR's System Safety Program Plan (SSPP) by June 1.
  • Develop and implement a communication and training program for all employees on the SSPP by the end of the year.
  • Conduct "Safety Stand Downs" every quarter. These conversations about safety encompass employees at all levels of the organization at every work location, during every tour of duty.
  • Review and improve programs to train and test employees on their application and knowledge of operating safely. This effort has already begun and will be completed by the end of the 2nd Quarter.
  • Continue to work with the FRA and Metro-North's labor organizations to set up a Confidential Close Call Reporting System, a measure that allows employees to anonymously report safety concerns without fear of reprisal.
  • Metro-North is the first railroad to agree to implement this program throughout its operation and anticipates successfully negotiating the required Implementing Memorandum of Understanding (IMOU) with the FRA and at least one labor organization by June 1.
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    Adopting Concrete Safety Enhancements

    Action Item

    Completed

  • Implement the findings and recommendations from external reviews:
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    • MTA Blue Ribbon Panel

    • NTSB Investigations
     

  • Work with the NTSB to comply with recently issued recommendations to install inward and outward facing cameras in train cabs, to more closely monitor both train speeds and engineers
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  • Complete implementation of the Enhanced Employee Protection System (EEPS). This industry-leading system developed in-house significantly increases the safety of workers on the tracks. It involves issuing a random, confidential, computer-generated code to a worker on the tracks. When it is time for the tracks to be returned to service, this code must be communicated by the track worker to the train dispatcher and correctly entered into a computer system before trains can enter the area. This program will be completed by May 1.
  • Complete Maintenance of Way Department Reorganization; hire and train sufficient personnel at all levels to ensure proper management oversight as well as sufficient staffing to perform the work.
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  • Develop a corrective action plan to implement recommendations that are identified in the final report from TTCI. The action plan shall indicate all required actions, schedule to implement and personnel responsible for implementation. Plan to be developed within 4 - 6 weeks of receipt of Final Report.
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  • Complete implementation of the requirements of the FRA's Emergency Order 29, issued on December 8, 2013. These requirements include:
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    Completion of signal system modifications at critical locations to enable systems on-board the train to enforce speed limits automatically. Five critical curves are located in Spuyten Duyvil, Yonkers, White Plains, Bridgeport, and Port Chester. Signal system modifications for these curves were all completed by February 8, one month ahead of schedule. Signal modifications have also been identified for the five moveable bridges on the New Haven Line located in Cos Cob, South Norwalk, Westport, Bridgeport and Milford in Connecticut. "Peck" Bridge in Bridgeport is completed. The remaining four modifications will be completed by May 1, four months ahead of schedule.

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    Installation of "alerter" devices on the M-3 and coach fleets by the 4th Quarter. Alerters are designed to ensure that engineers remain responsive. These two older fleets are equipped with a feature requiring an engineer to apply constant pressure to a hand- or foot-activated switch. By the end of this year, all older equipment without alerters will be either retrofitted to include them, or replaced with new equipment that includes alerters.

     

  • Begin to institute procedures to identify and mitigate operational risks associated before beginning projects. This effort will include contracting with a consultant to assist in developing a decision-making framework.
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  • Ensure independent third-party review of plans for crucial maintenance projects so as to minimize risk to Metro-North's ability to serve its customers.
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    Restoring Reliable Service

    Action Item

    Completed

  • Conduct a detailed study of New Haven Line train performance and running times to develop a dependable schedule. This study will take into account the impact of condition of the infrastructure and the impact of additional measures to improve safety. It will also look at train performance at key intermediate stations and adjust train schedules as needed to improve mid-line reliability. Adjustments will also be made to the Harlem and Hudson Line schedules for proper sequencing at key junctions and at Grand Central Terminal. Phase one of the review will be completed in time for the May 11 schedule change. Additional studies and modeling will be completed in time for subsequent schedule changes.
  • Finalize the 2014 track maintenance program, including a plan to complete ongoing track work in the Bronx by March 31
  • Implement a "back to basics" plan to improve train reliability and the quality of train service delivery. Every aspect of our operation from how we maintain infrastructure and railcars to how we operate each train will be reviewed and will have targets for improvement.
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  • In conjunction with ConnDOT, establish a technical working group to identify and implement a fix for malfunctioning grade crossings on the Danbury Branch.
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  • The working group has begun its review and, once corrective actions are identified, they will be implemented as soon as possible.
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    Improving Communications

    Action Item

    Completed

  • Create additional opportunities for two-way dialogue between MNR and its customers. Hold a minimum of 6 informal meetings in outlying stations and in Grand Central Terminal during the 100-day period.
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  • We have already made the "Contact Us" buttons on the Metro-North web site easier to find and use.
  • Improve availability of real time train information at stations. LCD monitors will be installed that will utilize the in-house developed Train Time System to display the next nine trains to arrive at that station, what stops the train will make, train status (whether it's on time or late and if it's late, how late) and what track it will be on. In 2014, nine stations will be added to this program (Marble Hill, Ossining, Southeast, Hartsdale, Bronxville, Mount Vernon East, Harrison, Spuyten Duyvil, Pelham) and four existing stations will see monitors (Rye, Mount Vernon West, Scarsdale, and Crestwood). Currently, this program provides for Metro-North to continue to install monitors at New York State stations through 2020.
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  • Develop a project plan with ConnDOT by June to install similar LCD monitors at New Haven Line stations in Connecticut.
  • Provide additional information to customers and legislators on the status of Metro-North programs through any and all means (both printed and electronic), especially those programs that affect service delivery.
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  • Implement a comprehensive service disruption operations plan in Grand Central Terminal to improve communication to our customers during service disruptions. This plan includes re-establishing the Management Emergency Response Team - Metro-North employees who are available and clearly identified so that customers can get ready answers to questions. Program will be implemented by April 1.
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    We welcome any feedback that you, our customers, want to provide about this action plan. You can send us your comments via email here (put "100-Day Action Plan" in the subject line).

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