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Radio Free Montone: Metro-North Changes Too Little, Too Late?

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By John Montone, 1010 WINS

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — The MTA took some commonsense steps to make its Metro-North trains and tracks safer.

One week too late.

Four people on the ill-fated train that violently derailed at Spuyten Dyvil might be alive today had the MTA made the modest improvements they announced Sunday night —  last month or last year. New signs have gone up near so-called, “critical curves,” warning engineers of drastic drops in the speed limit.

Remember, engineer Billy Rockefeller had the commuter train barreling along at 82 MPH as he went into a 30 MPH zone. And if like Rockefeller, the engineer doesn’t step on the brakes, the brakes will now be applied automatically.

Finally, conductors and engineers will be required to talk to each other as the train nears a dangerous stretch of track, either in person in the cab or by radio.

This is all good but all too late for four families who will never be whole again. Not only is it too late, it’s not enough.

Senators Schumer and Blumenthal want cameras in the cabs. Schumer said the cameras could be used to keep an eye on the engineers who may be sleeping or texting and detecting such patterns before they become deadly as they apparently did when Rockefeller “zoned out.”

Blumenthal said, “Shame on Metro-North for failing to adopt this system.” A much bigger shame is the foot-dragging by the railroad on what is known as “Positive Train Control.”

PTC is a high tech mix of GPS technology and a braking system designed to slow down and even stop speeding trains to prevent collisions and derailments. The NTSB ordered rail roads to install PTC by 2015.

Metro-North has made statements indicating that it is a time-consuming task and it might not be able to finish the installation by the deadline. Transportation experts say there is a good chance PTC would have prevented the Spuyten Dyvil derailment. A good chance those four passengers would be alive today. A good chance their families would not be living a nightmare.

So the message to the MTA and Metro-North is simple: Work harder and get it done.

John Montone

1010 WINS News.