After what’s been a painful year at Metro-North, new leadership stepped in a few weeks ago, and he’s already begun making the rounds, promising improvement and change. Joseph Giulietti worked for Metro-North during its early days, helping to stabilize and improve a railroad that was neglected in many ways by its previous ownership, and helped turn it into a stronger commuter railroad. Now, after an extended absence, he’s back to try to do it again in some ways.
He’s saying all the right things, and the question is whether he can fix the issues that exist. And frankly, I don’t think the problems the railroad faces are permanent – there are a lot of dedicated people working for it and with proper focus things can get back where they should be. The bigger question is whether in the longer term, the proper investment is made to maintain and enhance what exists.
The RPA report that made the rounds cited the billions of dollars of work needed to get infrastructure back to a state of good repair (much of it to replace bridges that are more than a century old), but beyond that there’s still all sorts of issues: Trains that have speed restrictions due to the spacing of the tracks and the sharpness of the curves; catenary that still hasn’t been replaced with more modern equivalents in sections of Connecticut; trains that still ingest snow, despite the fact that the new ones weren’t supposed to have this problem; and so on.
With the proper time and budget, these are solvable, but I like Giulietti’s initial efforts to focus on steadying the ship, and then once things are in a better place moving forward. So I’m cautiously optimistic, as long as the states are willing to keep things moving forward and ensure Metro-North is properly funded.