In the wake of a fiery collision between a train and a tractor-trailer at a railroad crossing in Maspeth on July 8, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced Tuesday that it will launch a safety review of New York & Atlantic Railway’s (NYA) safety culture and management practices.
The train was traveling at a minimum of 20 mph, 5 mph above the area railroad speed limit of 15 mph, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
This safety analysis will review NYA’s operational practices, its compliance with federal regulations and the overall safety culture of the train operation company. The FRA stated that NYA has committed to fully cooperate with the safety review.
“Rail safety is a responsibility DOT [Department of Transportation] shares with the operators,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Railroads must adhere to the strict standards of safety set by FRA, and FRA must ensure and enforce compliance in order to protect lives. This safety review aims to do just that.”
The FRA’s rail safety team will inspect NYA’s operating departments; engineer and conductor certifications; locomotive engineer oversight; grade crossing diagnostics; the company’s operation control center procedures and rail traffic controller training methods; human factors that may have caused the crash; and its compliance with federal practices regulations.
“[Tuesday’s] announcement by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to launch a safety review of the New York & Atlantic Railway is welcoming news,” said Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan in a statement. “After last week’s train-truck collision in Queens, this study is much needed for our community. I am confident that this review by the FRA will help to improve safety standards. I will continue to monitor this important situation and working with my partners in government – city, state and federal — to make sure that Queens rails and roads are safe.”
After the FRA completes its review of NYA’s safety culture and practices, it will issue a report outlining their findings and provide recommendations to the railroad company. Additionally, the FRA will evaluate NY&A’s follow-up to the recommendations and assess if subsequent actions are necessary to strengthen safety at NYA Railway.
“In this safety sweep of NYA, FRA will provide recommendations on specific areas where the railroad must improve to meet the high safety standards FRA and the country expect,” said Sarah Feinberg, acting FRA administrator.
The Courier has reached out to Paul Victor, president of NYA, and is awaiting a response.