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Governor Cuomo Sends Letter to MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today sent the following letter to MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast:

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Albany, NY - December 6, 2013 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today sent the following letter to MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast:

Thomas F. Prendergast
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Metropolitan Transportation Authority
347 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10017
December 6, 2013

Dear Chairman Prendergast:

While the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation of the recent Metro-North Railroad derailment remains ongoing, reports have now made clear that the actions of Engineer William Rockefeller were the initiating cause of this tragic accident. The train’s speed, which Mr. Rockefeller controlled, was over 50mph above the maximum allowed speed at the time of derailment.

Various state and national agencies are now examining Mr. Rockefeller’s conduct. I am sure that the MTA is also taking the necessary disciplinary measures.

With that being said, we must take this moment to pause and explore what new measures can be implemented by the MTA to make Metro-North Railroad and the Long Island Rail Road the safest rail system in the world. New York’s commuters deserve nothing less.

First, as we discussed, the MTA should expedite automated speed control for vulnerable track locations across the Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road systems, including those areas where there is a significant speed change. We all agree this is an appropriate measure.

Positive train control (PTC) offers the most comprehensive systemic solution to prevent railroad collisions and speed conditions that can lead to derailments. Implementing PTC on Metro-North and LIRR will be challenging, but this solution must be accelerated so it will be in place for New York commuters as soon as possible.

Furthermore, I am requesting you to confer with all relevant personnel and experts to identify what actions can be taken before PTC is installed, and design recommendations to address hazards revealed in Sunday’s derailment in the immediate and long-term future.

Specifically, please consider and evaluate the following:

  • Implementing regular safety stand-downs to reinforce a safety culture among MTA employees, similar to the immediate safety stand-downs I previously directed you to conduct this week.
  • Participating in the Federal Railroad Administration’s Confidential Close Call Reporting System, which provides a way for front-line employees to anonymously warn of potential safety hazards without fear of retribution.
  • Identifying technical solutions to enforce speed control, compliance with operating rules, engineer alertness and any other measures that can improve safety for New York commuters.

I look forward to receiving your recommendations as soon as possible.


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo