When Metro-North Railroad retrofits a third of its older cars next year with an alerter system to jolt inattentive engineers back into focus, Connecticut's soon to be retired M2, M4, and M6 cars will not be among them.
The announcement at Monday's Metro-North board meeting did not sit well with Connecticut Rail Commuter Council member John Hartwell.
"I think that's a problem," Hartwell said. "They think the cars will be out of servic,e but who knows when the M2 cars will no longer be needed."
Given the severity of the Bronx derailment that killed four people and previous incidents including the derailment in Bridgeport that injured 76 people, the older cars should be outfitted to assure greater safety, Hartwell said.
Railroad President Howard Permut said the Connecticut cars will all be retired by autumn 2014 and replaced with the state's new fleet of M8 cars, which have the devices that sound an alarm if an engineer is unresponsive and eventually brake until a train stops if corrective action isn't taken.
"Keep in mind we won't be doing the M2, M4, and M6 cars," Permut said. "The M8s will be here by the end of the 2014."
Metro-North's M2, M4, and M6 cars range in age from between 25 and 42 years old. Since the first set of M8 cars went into service in March 2011, Metro-North has gradually eliminated the size fleet of M2 railcar fleet from 242 to 76 cars, and now uses only only 44 to provide service each day, according to the railroad. Only 60 M4 and M6 cars are in service each weekday.
The National Transportation Safety Board said the Hudson Line train that derailed on Dec. 1 in the Bronx had the system in the engine car that was pushing the seven-car train, but not in the front cab where the engineer William Rockefeller acknowledged nodding off, leaving the train to accelerate to 82 miles per hour just before a curve that has a maximum recommended speed of 30 miles per hour. The crash killed four people and injured more than 60 others, 11 of them critically.