FRA OVERSIGHT PLANFOR NORTHEAST ILLINOIS REGIONAL COMMUTER RAILROAD
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has the authority and the responsibility to provide safetyoversight on the Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad (Metra). FRA provides that safetyoversight by conducting regular inspections of Metra track, signals, and operations to establishcompliance with Federal regulations for railroads.Recently, Metra has experienced some changes in leadership within the Board of Directors and seniorranks of the organization. FRA inspection results show that Metra continues to be a safe and efficientoperation – a credit to the career professionals who execute daily a service-oriented, safety focusedculture of providing on-time, safe and reliable service. However, in order to be proactive and ensurethat safe operations continues to be supported during this time of transition, FRA has initiated a seriesof actions designed to ensure the continued safety of Metra employees, Metra riders, and the generalpublic.FRA’s plan for increased safety oversight of Metra operations is based on two tenets, regulatorymonitoring and increased communications. These steps are designed to ensure that Metra operatingofficials and employees:
comply with rules and regulations:
maintain their focus on safety; and,
keep lines of communication open between labor, management and FRA on all safety issues.The FRA
Oversight Plan contains the following elements:1.
The FRA Administrator has personally opened up lines of communication with the MetraDeputy Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer and emphasized the need to stay focused onsafety during this period of leadership transition and ensured a direct line of communicationshould any void of leadership have the potential of creating an unsafe environment.2.
The FRA Region 4 Regional Administrator will hold weekly face-to-face meetings with the MetraDeputy Executive Director / Chief Operations Officer to review any safety issues revealedthrough FRA inspections or communication with Metra labor organizations. The weekly meetingwill also allow discussion of any operational issues that may affect Metra or other railroads inthe Chicago area.3.
The FRA Region 4 leadership will engage labor leaders and rank and file members to make laboraware of FRA’s increased oversight and to facilitate two-way communication on all aspects of rail safety. These meetings will include senior level meetings, open meetings, and informalface-to-face with the rank and file employees.4.
The FRA Region 4 representatives will attend and participate in monthly Labor-ManagementSafety meetings. During these meetings, labor representatives discuss any safety concernsdirectly with Metra management. These meetings encompass Metra employees in theengineering, mechanical and transportation departments and their managers.