Metropolitan Transportation Authority - Long Island Rail Road


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Metropolitan Transportation Authority - Long Island Rail Road
Maintenance, Inspection, and Testing of the Event Recorder System

Issued: November 7, 2018
Link to full audit report 2017-S-8
Link to 90-day response

The objectives of our audit were to determine whether the the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) maintains and inspects its Event Recorder System (ERS) and whether it has corrective action plans to fix deficiencies identified.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is a State public authority created under Article 5, Title 11 of the Public Authorities Law. One of six MTA constituent agencies, the LIRR, founded in 1834, has grown to become the largest commuter railroad in North America. The LIRR has 124 stations on ten branches and the City Terminal Line that covers about 700 miles of track transporting about 305,000 riders each weekday. As of December 2016, LIRR’s annual ridership was over 89.3 million.

As part of its railway intermodal transportation mission, the LIRR installed various safety features within its infrastructure and trains. A key feature on the train is the ERS – a device that simultaneously monitors and records the key functions (e.g., speed, brakes) of the train and the actions of the engineer. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) requires all locomotives to be equipped with ERS. Under FRA regulation, as stated in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), periodic maintenance for the railroad is considered effective if 90 percent of the recorders on locomotives inbound for periodic inspection (PI) in any calendar month are still fully functional.

Key Findings
We determined that the LIRR has a maintenance and inspection program for ERS; however, it was not always in compliance with the program. For example, from January 1, 2014 to February 27, 2017, there were five months when the non-functioning ERS exceeded the 10 percent “effective maintenance standard” established by the FRA.

Moreover, of the 243 inspection dates reviewed, there were 55 occurrences of train cars sitting idle for more than two days before an ERS PI was performed, thereby causing the last 48 hours of train activities to be recorded as idle time and not revenue passenger service, time-limiting the availability of data to assess if the ERS is functioning properly. The LIRR also does not have a corrective action plan/program to ensure defects are addressed and corrected on a timely basis.

Key Recommendations

  • Develop detailed inspection, testing, and maintenance policies and procedures. Identify the tasks related to the inspection, testing, and maintenance required by the CFR.
  • Expand ERS testing to determine and ensure that the channels are functioning and document the tests were performed for each PI. Maintain physical and electronic copies of ERS downloads from PIs.
  • Document the job titles that can perform the ERS tests and ensure that employees testing the ERS receive the required initial and periodic refresher training.
  • Prepare and maintain documentation of the repair work done to make the ERS fully functional, including, but not limited to, the repair work done, the employee who did the work, the date work was done, and ensure that it is linked to an ERS PI.

Other Related Audit/Report of Interest

State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: Carmen Maldonado
Phone: (212) 417-5200; Email:
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236