The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is a ‘lawless….and rogue…agency’ that did not properly oversee the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in New York and Connecticut in five accidents where six people died and 126 were hurt, according to Senator Richard Blumenthal this week.
The five wrecks happened between May 2013 and March 2014, and were due to a lax culture on the Metro-North transit line, which is overseen by MTA. Blumenthal stated in a press briefing that the MTA put timeliness ahead of public safety. Also involved in the press conference were New York Senator Chuck Schumer and Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy.
The officials stated that the MTA has improved since the wrecks, but that there still are problems with the FRA. The senators stated that they are going to introduce bills into Congress that would require FRA to oversee US train lines more aggressively.
Blumenthal railed that the MTA has blood on its hands but the FRA has blame as well. He added that the FRA is a rogue organization that does not follow the law, noting that statutory deadlines and guidelines are often missed.
In one of the accidents, a derailment in Bridgeport, CT occurred on May 17, 2013. After it derailed, another train slammed into it. Eleven days after that, an employee on the tracks was hit and killed by a train.
Schumer noted that the NTSB report determined that the MTA was ‘a horror house of negligence that resulted in injury and death.’
It is disappointing to us that the federal government is not properly overseeing railroads in the US. We see far too many train-related accidents in our work as attorneys in Virginia. More focus on public safety is needed.