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Metro-North president steps down

After a trying year that brought two derailments and other major missteps, Metro-North President Howard Permut announced his resignation as president of Metro-North Railroad on Monday, Metro-North spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said.

Permut will stay until the end of the month to assist with the transition to new leadership, Anders said. Permut was not available for comment Monday night.

Politico reported Monday that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority was expected to name Florida rail official Joseph Giuletti to take Permut's place this week.

Permut's announcement comes after a nightmarish 2013 for the nation's second-largest railroad, including the derailment of one train and collision with a second in Bridgeport on May 17. Seventy-six people were injured in that incident.

Two weeks later, a veteran foreman for the railroad was struck and killed in West Haven by a train traveling 70 mph, when a rookie rail control operator mistakenly opened a section of track that was supposed to have been closed for maintenance work.

In late September, railroad service was crippled for 13 days after a feeder cable in New York failed without a backup source of power, severely limiting service until Oct. 8.

After a derailment in the Bronx, N.Y., on Dec. 1 killed four people, the Federal Railroad Administration began an in-depth investigation of Metro-North's operations and safety practices, and issued new directives to ensure that engineers operate trains at safe speeds.

Former Connecticut Rail Commuter Council Chairman Jim Cameron said Permut's departure had been somewhat expected, given the difficulties of 2013.

"It is not surprising that Mr. Permut is stepping down as president of Metro-North," Cameron said, "especially after the past year of deadly accidents and operational issues at the railroad."

Martin B. Cassidy

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