Marcellino, Skelos And Madison Announce Comprehensive Review Of Commuter Rail Station Platform Gaps

Carl L Marcellino

August 23, 2006

New York State Senators Carl L. Marcellino (R-Syosset) and Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), NYS Department of Transportation Commissioner Thomas Madison, Long Island Rail Road ("LIRR") President James Dermody and representatives from Metro-North Railroad today held a press conference at the Woodside train station announcing a comprehensive review of all train station platform gaps on the LIRR and Metro-North.
"The safety of the ridership is our main concern. We must do all that we can to make sure that passengers can safely board and disembark from the trains," said Senator Marcellino.
The New York State Public Transportation Safety Board ("PTSB") will review the gaps at all 246 LIRR and Metro-North train stations, such a review will enable the MTA and its constituent agencies to enhance their safety protocols and, because any corrective action would require a significant expenditure of MTA capital funds, provide necessary information to both the MTA and the Capital Program Review Board.
"The tragic accident that occurred on August 5th highlights an area of public safety that deserves closer scrutiny," said Commissioner Madison. "This investigation provides an opportunity for us to take a broader look at the design and operation of New York's commuter rail system and make it safer." On August 5, 2006, 18 year-old Natalie Smead from Northfield, Minnesota was tragically killed by a LIRR train after falling through the gap at the Woodside train station.
"I am pleased that the NYS Public Transportation Safety Board is launching a study into new and innovative solutions to the troublesome gaps at stations," Senator Marcellino said. "However, until the results of the study are implemented to bridge the gap, it is important that riders remain vigilant and safety measures are followed so that an accident does not become a tragedy."
Because of differing train types and the positioning of a station, the gap between the train car and the station platform can vary dramatically. The Syosset station has become the focus of a system wide platform gap problem because of the curved nature of the platform. Recently announced new safety measures at the Syosset station, including closed-circuit monitors, are an appropriate addition to previously installed tactile strips that warn riders of the approaching end of the platform and increased lighting at car entrances. While closed-circuit monitors and recorded messages will not prevent a fall, a motorman's awareness of a fall will save lives or prevent serious injury.
"The MTA Long Island Rail Road will cooperate fully with the Senators and the New York State Public Transportation Safety Board in investigating and addressing concerns regarding the gap at LIRR stations," Mr. Dermody said.
New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Thomas Madison chairs the State PTSB. The PTSB was established to "reduce the number, rate and severity of public transportation accidents" and legislatively empowered to "conduct comprehensive accident investigations and system safety program field audits; analyze critical safety issues and concerns; and recommend the establishment of new safety legislation, rules and regulation, and transportation system procedures based on accident investigations, special studies and audits." According to Commissioner Madison in 2005 there were 55 reported gap related accidents out of approximately 90 million rides.