Sunday, December 21, 2014

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NTSB: Death of Metro-North Worker Under Investigation

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The National Transportation Safety Board says investigators are being sent to look into the death of a Metro-North worker who was killed early Monday morning after being struck by a train. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.

Metro-North is dealing with death on the tracks again.

On Monday, veteran electrical worker James Romansoff died after being struck by a Poughskeepsie-bound train just before 1 a.m. as his work crew restored power to tracks near Park Avenue and East 106th Street.

The death of the 58-year-old Yonkers man is more bad news at a railroad whose image has taken a thrashing after a year filled with lowlights, including the December derailment in the Bronx of a speeding train that left four dead and more than 70 injured.

"We're all familiar with the recent history - collisions, power failures, derailments, injuries and even deaths," said Sen. Charles Schumer. "All of this on what used to be regarded as the crown jewel of commuter rail in America."

It comes as new Metro-North President Joseph Giuletti tries to restore faith in a railroad that also endured the May collision of two Metro-North trains in Connecticut and a string of power outages.

"If there were just one or just two, you might say, 'Well, sometimes bad things happen.' But not with so many," Schumer said.

Romansoff is the second Metro-North worker to be killed on the job in the last year, and his death is the latest blow to a railroad that's under federal order to boost its safety standards.

The Federal Railroad Administration is nearing the end of a 60-day investigation of Metro-North, whose top officials launched a series of safety measures in the wake of the Bronx derailment

The head of an advisory group to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority wonders whether those efforts are catching.

"They have tried to re-emphasize with their employees that safety is the most important thing the railroad does," said William Henderson of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee. "It's hard to say whether that's working or not."

Arthur Davidson, a union representative for Romansoff said that the third railman had been failed by a system designed to keep him safe.

"That shouldn't have happened," Davidson said. "When these active employees went out there on an active track, there should have been protections provided to them."

Now, what went wrong will be part of a National Transportation Safety Board investigation.

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