Kirsten Gillibrand urges feds to do safety review of MTA's rail system
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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand reached out to the nation's railroad administrator Monday, asking for a swift and comprehensive safety evaluation of the MTA's commuter rail system after Sunday's derailment in the Bronx.
Gillibrand, D-N.Y., in a letter to Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo, made her request "to ensure that a similar tragedy does not happen again," according to a news release from her office.
The derailment is the fifth of a Metropolitan Transportation Authority train since March and the sixth Metro-North train derailment in the metro area over the past two years, the release said.
Gillibrand's letter to Szabo called the latest accident "simply unacceptable" and said she renews her "call for an immediate comprehensive safety evaluation of the MTA system and procedures to ensure that we do not experience a similar tragedy in the future. Additionally, I request that you provide my office with an overview of any steps that have been taken" to address MTA commuter rail safety.
An email seeking comment from Szabo was not immediately answered.
On Sunday Gillibrand also spoke to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Deborah Hersman on the need for clear answers and improved commuter rail safety, the release said.
Gillibrand's request to Szabo's agency is her second in less than six months. In June, after the derailment of a Long Island Rail Road train, Gillibrand requested that the Federal Railroad Administration work with federal agencies to launch a systemwide review of the MTA's commuter rail lines to identify safety hazards.
Sunday's derailment is the third major event to occur on Metro-North tracks in 2013 -- a year that MTA officials have acknowledged has included a higher than normal number of safety-related incidents for its commuter railroads.
In May, a Metro-North train derailed in Bridgeport, Conn., injuring 76 people. Less than two weeks later, a Metro-North train killed a track worker in West Haven, Conn.
And in July, a freight train derailed near the same location as Sunday's event.