Safety & Reliability Update 2020
(Posted October 2020)
Metro-North is driven by its strategic plan, Way Ahead, a roadmap that details actions to enhance safety, service, infrastructure, communications, and transform customers’ day-to-day commuting experience. Metro-North has realized key aspects of its vision, and that means customers can expect safety upgrades, improved communications, reinvigorated stations, renewed infrastructure, all of which translates to an overall more positive commuting experience.
The year 2020 was exceptional as our company focused on assuring first and foremost the health and safety of our customers and employees during the pandemic. However, scheduling track work this year has been easier due to the lower ridership, which is currently at 22% of its previous year levels. Because of lower ridership, and a reduced schedule that is at 63% of normal, we have been able to focus on delivering many of our infrastructure improvements with minimal to no impact on service delivery.
Current Metro-North Safety Initiatives:
- Since the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), Metro-North Railroad has worked tirelessly to promote and provide a clean and healthy environment for our employees, customers and contractors. Metro-North routinely sanitizes and disinfects trains, stations and common spaces throughout the territory to prevent the spread and transmission of the virus.
- In October, we demonstrated a new 3-stage, air filtration and purification system technology for our fleet which has been found in laboratory tests to kill 99.99998% of airborne viruses and bacteria, with testing to continue through the 4th Q 2020.
- Metro-North has launched a safety initiative throughout our territory, handing out free masks and providing hand sanitizer to our customers. We also installed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) vending machines at many stations.
- Continued efforts with the Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS), which we started in 2015. It is a partnership between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), in conjunction with Metro-North and its labor organizations. C3RS is designed to encourage employees to report any potential safety hazard or breach of procedures that they may observe by providing them with a convenient, non-confrontational and anonymous method to do so. Metro-North leads the industry in this initiative.
- Our Obstructive Sleep Apnea Program continues with the screening of all locomotive engineers and conductors, and the treating of those diagnosed through the program.
- Initiated a Question Persuade Refer (QPR) program for frontline employees that enables them to identify the signs of mental illness or of people in danger of hurting themselves; and partnered with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and the Crisis Text line with text “Next2U” to 741741, a unique keyword for Metro-North for customers. All of these programs are designed to improve the outcome of a mental health crisis near our tracks and trains.
- Continued our trespassing outreach and reduction efforts through our safety education and community program, TRACKS, Together Railroads and Communities Keeping Safe, and during the pandemic we expanded our digital presence through social media and our website. We have begun a PSA video campaign and social media posts featuring Metro-Man on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
- Installed on-board cameras and video recording equipment in 100% of Metro-North passenger trains and locomotives. The on-board cameras assist the railroad with investigations and are used by management in carrying out Rule Compliance Audits and system-wide performance monitoring programs.
- We are meeting the federal mandate for the installation of Positive Train Control (PTC), which is a significant improvement of train movement protection, with all main lines currently in Extended Revenue Service Demonstration (ERSD), delivering and enforcing signal status and speed restriction information where applicable to insure the utmost safety for passengers, employees, and contractor personnel.
- Received delivery of a new Track Geometry Inspection Vehicle in early 2020, equipment that is intended to measure the integrity of our rails and determine where they need to be fixed. Testing and commissioning of the vehicle is expected in Spring 2021. During the testing period, continue to utilize the already installed Autonomous Track Geometry Measurement Systems on M7, M8 railcars and a diesel-hauled coach.
- Created and instituted EEPS (Enhanced Employee Protection System), a proprietary, technology-based system that allows the supervisor in charge of a work site to prevent trains from entering a given stretch of track, thereby vastly improving employee safety along the Right of Way, and improving the delivery of safety-sensitive information among essential operational stakeholders. Metro-North was the developer and first railroad in the nation to implement EEPS, and we were awarded the 2016 APTA Safety Gold Award for EEPS.
- Implemented POPS (Plate Order Protection System), an electronic representation of the manual Plate Orders used by the Power Directors and Rail Traffic Controllers to protect against electric trains entering a de-energized track segment, allowing us to go from a cumbersome manual system, to an electronic request system controlled from desktops.
- Projected for 2021 is the rollout of track and signal mobile inspections utilizing iPads. Inspectors will be able to perform the duties with a work order system, logging defects and other critical asset information. Once the form is submitted through the iPad, managers and supervisors will be able to better prepare for maintenance activities and more reliable service, and store information to the cloud.
- In tandem with these safety improvements, Metro-North has undertaken major work along our right-of-way to restore our infrastructure. This work, which improves reliability, included the replacement of four switches near Scarsdale on the Harlem Line; 14,000 new ties on the Danbury Branch; new ties and resurfaced track between Milford and West Haven; switches at Stamford Yard; and the thick web miters and expansion rails on the Harlem River Lift Bridge; and the implementation of a continuous rail flaw testing program.
- First Responder Training: Metro-North provides training to public safety first responders (fire, police, and EMS) in a classroom and field environment. The program teaches first responders how to respond to incidents involving the railroad and provides guidance on safe operations around railroad equipment and the right-of-way. In addition, field training is provided to teach first responders about Metro-North’s equipment and emergency evacuation procedures.
- Metro-North has partnered with WAZE (GPS Application) to alert drivers who are using the app to railroad crossings along their route.
We will update this information on a twice-yearly basis so that you can monitor the progress being made by our efforts.
- November 2017 Update
- April 2016 Update
- December 2015 Update
- October 2015 Update
- September 2015 Update
- May 2015 Update