NY: New Metro-North President to Start Work Feb. 10

Jan. 30--Joseph Giulietti, the Florida rail executive and Connecticut native hired to take over leadership of the beleaguered Metro-North Railroad is expected to begin work Feb. 10, railroad officials said.

Giulietti, executive director of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, is expected to work his last day at that agency on Friday, Bonnie Arnold, a spokeswoman for Tri-Rail, said.

Metro-North Railroad announced earlier this month the retirement of outgoing president Howard Permut and the hiring of Giulietti a month after the Dec. 1 derailment at Spuyten Duyvil in the Bronx, N.Y., that killed four people. The incident increased already intense federal scrutiny on the railroad's safety protocols that began last May with the derailment of a train and collision with another in Bridgeport that injured 76 people.

Palm Beach County Commissioner and South Florida Regional Transportation Authority Chairman Steven Abrams said earlier this month the county commission voted to not hold Giulietti to a separation clause for 60 days at the request of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

"Our board did waive the two-month requirement at the request of the MTA," Abrams said. "Mr. Giulietti has been with us for quite a number of years, but we have an interim director in line and it's been a very seamless transition."

Giulietti who will end his 14-year tenure as executive director of Tri-Rail on Friday, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Giulietti, 61, a native of Hamden, worked as a superintendent of rail operations for Metro-North Railroad until his departure for Tri-Rail in 1998.

Giulietti's major accomplishment at Tri-Rail was a $300 million project to add a second track to the 70.9 mile line linking Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, Fla.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said he was pleased the railroad had announced a hard start date for the railroad's new leader to facilitate ongoing efforts to improve the railroad's safety culture.

Last week, Blumenthal demanded the railroad confirm Giulietti's start date to take over the railroad after train was stranded Wednesday between East Norwalk and Greens Farms station and a systemwide failure of the railroad's signalization system that stopped trains on the New Haven, Harlem, and Hudson lines Thursday.

"Having him on board is certainly a very welcome step, but it has to be accompanied by a top-to-bottom overhaul in leadership, including practices, procedures and maybe, most important, culture," Blumenthal said. "One person in one position can make a critical difference, but it is far from the end of the deep-seated fundamental changes that have to be made."

The railroad is in the midst of two NTSB investigations into the Bronx and Bridgeport derailments, and last month, the Federal Railroad Administration began a 60-day "exhaustive" investigation of safety and operating procedures at the railroad.

Two weeks after the Bridgeport derailment a veteran Metro-North foreman was killed by a 52-year-old track foreman in West Haven was killed by a train. Robert Luden, 52, of East Haven, was struck and killed by a Metro-North passenger train traveling 70 mph after a student controller reopened the track on which Luden was working and had requested to remain out of service.

In late September electric rail service was crippled on the New Haven Line when a feeder cable supplying electricity to overhead catenary wires broke, with the railroad on restoring service gradually over 13 days.

Copyright 2014 - The Stamford Advocate, Conn.

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