Skip to Main Content
Railroad News

Connecticut Newspaper Takes Railroad Communications Failures To Task

By Pottroff & Karlin LLC |

(Westport, Connecticut – July 28, 2011)

An editorial in the Westport News Thursday took aim at Metro North Railroad’s failure to communicate with public emergency workers just 24 hours after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s subsidiary had held a seminar for first responders in Westport, CT on the subject of responding to rail emergencies and rescuing passengers from trains.

The problem was – and the editorial appropriately labeled it as both coincidence and irony – that the public emergency forces were prepped, while Metro North officials seemed to have remembered nothing they had taught the public fire, police and emergency personnel. In the instruction class, Metro North’s fire chief “discussed rail safety, hazards that rescuers should be aware of, how to get access to trains in an emergency, and the role of Metro North crews and how they could be expected to help.”

The very next afternoon, a Metro North passenger commuter train lost power in Green Farms, CT with 300 passengers, including three pregnant women, on board. A Metro North dispatcher first told inquiring Westport emergency forces that the train was empty of passengers.

The passengers soon took matters into their own hands, as the train’s conductor, radio in hand, attempted, but failed, to contact Metro North Railroad personnel for help. Receiving 911 calls from passengers, Westport authorities again sought help from MN’s dispatcher, who had no idea where the stalled train was. Meanwhile, 103 degree heat upon a metal train with non-functioning air conditioning and no capability to open windows was taking its toll of passenger patience.

“That is where Metro North’s negligence was trumped by its incompetence,” charged the newspaper, relating that “a railroad spokeswoman this week said the railroad knows exactly where all of its trains are all of the time.”

She also “was quick to point out that it dispatched electricians to the scene who fixed whatever problem had stalled the train and got it moving in less than an hour.”

“So if it knew where to send its repair crew, why didn’t the railroad let the nearest rescue crews in on the secret?” countered the editorial.

“When that information cannot be quickly and accurately relayed to emergency personnel, the railroad’s communication protocols are dangerously inadequate,” the Westport News editorial continued. “And it is courting disaster.

At track level, what of the engineer and conductor on the train?” In conclusion, the editorial stated “Great public trust is placed in Metro North, and consciously or not, each passenger makes a leap of faith when he or she boards a train. Whether its trains run on time or not, whether they break down or not, Metro North’s first obligation is the safety of its passengers. Where that is concerned, the railroad’s communication procedures have jumped the track,” the Westport News concluded.


Railroad News


Train crash cases are unique and complex with many different potential pitfalls, such as federal preemption. Anytime I get hired or even get a call from a train crash victim, my very first call is to Nathan’s firm. Nathan’s knowledge and experience in handling and trying cases against these litigation savvy railroad companies gives me the confidence to know that the clients and cases I refer to him are getting the best of the best.

James Perrin Lubbock, Texas

I have had the opportunity to work as co-counsel with Nathan on several railroad crossing accidents cases. In each case, Nathan always possessed an incredible knowledge of the law and the facts, possessed a great talent for aggressive - strategic legal planning and trial tactics while, at the same time, displaying great skill as an effective negotiator. I would recommend him to anyone without hesitation.

Scott McCluen Harriman, Tennessee

Nathan Karlin has my strongest endorsement in the field of railroad crossing cases and personal injury law. I had the pleasure of working with Nathan in a complex railroad personal injury case. I was impressed by Nathan’s knowledge, his work ethic, and his dedication to the client. I look forward to working with Nathan on future injury matters. I am also aware firsthand that he has obtained excellent trial and settlement results in numerous cases involving members of the public harmed by railroad companies.

Joseph M. Miller Mandeville, Louisiana

Nathan is a warrior fighting the railroads. As a fellow personal injury lawyer, I have constantly been impressed with his depth of knowledge and his capabilities from case to case. I’d take him into battle with me any day against the biggest railroads and insurance companies on the planet.

Jon C. Clark Austin, Texas

Bob Pottroff has fought for the victims of the railroads’ callous disregard for safety more than any other attorney that I know. I should know because I am currently Chair-elect of the Railroad Section of ATLA.

Robert Schuetze Boulder, Colorado

Mr. Pottroff has shaken the rail industry to its very roots. Settlements are now more common as a result of the way he has exposed the industry’s wrongdoing.

Mike Easley Arkansas

Bob Pottroff’s work in railroad safety law is unmatched and he has been the source of great advice and phenomenal creativity.

Roger Brown Jefferson City, Missouri

In addition to his substantive contributions to railroad grade crossing safety, I have personally observed his untiring efforts and contributions to improving the integrity of the legal system.

Elizabeth Hardy Lake Charles, Louisiana

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8