James Romansoff, Metro-North worker, struck and killed by train

People disembark from a Metro North train at People disembark from a Metro North train at Grand Central Terminal Wednesday, March 20, 2013. Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

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A Metro-North employee was killed early Monday morning when a passenger train struck him while he was working on tracks in East Harlem.

James Romansoff, 58, an employee in the power department, died at The Mount Sinai Hospital after the Poughkeepsie-bound train hit him shortly before 1 a.m. near 106th Street on a Park Avenue viaduct.

Metro-North president Joseph Giulietti, who started last month, offered his condolences to Romansoff's family.

"With our partners at the Federal Railroad Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board, we will re-examine our procedures and protocols to ensure we are performing our jobs with safety as the paramount concern," Giulietti said in a statement.

Romansoff was part of the crew that was restoring power to a track that had been taken out of service over the weekend for maintenance.

In May, a Metro-North track foreman, Robert Luden, was killed by a Metro-North train in New Haven, Conn.

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The MTA has since implemented a safety protocol called the Enhanced Employee Protection System, in which a worker who needs use of a track receives a randomly generated code that must be repeated back to the control center to indicate that the area is ready for service. An MTA spokesman said that while EEPS is in place throughout the system, he could not say whether it was in use when Romansoff was struck, citing the NTSB investigation.

The agency, meanwhile, is being probed by the Federal Railroad Administration, which is examining Metro-North's safety practices following a fatal December derailment in the Bronx and a May derailment in Bridgeport, Conn.

Meanwhile, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) lit into Metro-North, which he said was once "regarded as the crown jewel of commuter rail in America."

"This is a tragic event where a public servant has lost his life," Schumer said at a news conference in Grand Central Terminal. "It becomes even more troubling in the context of a rash of accidents that have happened on this railroad in the last year."

Schumer, who said he plans to meet with Giulietti, called on the FRA to include Monday's accident in its Metro-North probe, called Operation Deep Dive.

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The FRA said in a statement that much of its investigation work is finished as the agency prepares to present its findings to Congress next week.

"Our findings will be heavily considered as we conduct our investigation into [the] accident and as we continue to work with Metro North to improve its safety record going forward," the statement said.

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