NEWARK, N.J. — Federal regulators have the New Jersey Transit and Metro-North commuter rail lines under a watchful eye. Regulators have fined the railroads a combined total of over $1 million for safety and compliance violations since 2013, according to a report filed by northjersey.com. By contrast, the Long Island Railroad carries the highest number of passengers daily and paid a fraction of what Metro-North and NJ Transit paid in assessments to the Federal Railroad Administration.
The history of deadly train accidents coupled with dozens of safety and compliance violations committed by NJ Transit and the Metro-North commuter railroad has the attention of the Federal Railroad Administration. As a result, the Federal Railroad Administration closely scrutinizes those two rail systems. Fines and assessments for safety violations and compliance omissions do not necessarily mean that the railroad is unsafe. The penalties and assessments levied by the Federal Railroad Administration suggest that the railroads’ cultures for safety and compliance could be lacking.
As a result of safety violations and non-compliance, the Federal Railroad Administration fined the NJ Transit over $576,000 from 2013 to 2018 while the Metro-North system received fines of just over $859,000. By contrast, the LIRR received almost $132,000 in the same time frame. The penalties levied against NJ Transit, and Metro-North were significantly higher, but the legal teams for each railroad successfully negotiated a lower payment.
The New Jersey Transit and Metro-North have experienced fatal accidents in the last five to six years. On the Metro-North in December of 2013, four people died and over 60 sustained injuries when a train headed for Manhattan sped through a turn at almost 50 miles per hour over the speed limit and derailed on a corner. The subsequent investigation revealed that the train’s engineer suffered from obstructive sleep apnea and that sleeping disorder was a substantial cause of the accident. Similarly, in September of 2016, a NJ Transit train collided with the platform at the end of the tracks, causing the roof to collapse. One person died, and over 100 on the train and the platform were hurt. The engineer was found to have the same sleeping disorder. The history of these fatal crashes places the NJ Transit and Metro-North under the watchful eye of regulators who will issue monetary penalties with the hope of deterring the companies from violating safety regulations.
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