NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – NJ TRANSIT is hiring a former Metro-North president to help it meet federal rail safety requirements.
The agency will pay Peter Cannito $350 per hour to review Federal Railroad Administration violations uncovered in an audit and help with a positive train control system.
The Federal Railroad Administration began the audit in June, after noticing an uptick in rail incidents, and found “dozens of safety violations” that needed to be fixed immediately, a U.S. official said. The commuter rail agency was fined as a result of the audit.
In late September, an NJ TRANSIT train smashed through a steel-and-concrete bumper at Hoboken Terminal and hurtled into the station’s waiting area, killing a woman on the platform and injuring more than 100 other people.
An Associated Press analysis after the crash found NJ TRANSIT had more accidents than any other commuter railroad in the country in the past five years.
A state transportation official said NJ TRANSIT has gotten more scrutiny because it counts all incidents and not just those required to be reported by federal guidelines.
NJ Transit will also hire a compliance officer.
The transit agency’s board also voted to lease the final radio frequency it needs to install the positive train control system by a 2018 deadline.
Records show NJ TRANSIT has paid more than $500,000 to settle federal safety violations since 2011. The data from the Federal Railroad Administration shows the violations ranged from employee drug and alcohol use to violations of railroad operating rules or practices.
The settlement payments include about $70,000 in fines NJ TRANSIT received after federal inspectors found more than a dozen violations in 2014 and 2015. Statistics for the current year are not yet available.
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