Train derailment fuels sleep apnea screening talks

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — Key employees at the nation's second-busiest commuter railroad may soon be asked to get their necks measured and report whether their spouses have complained about their snoring.

That's because the Metro-North railroad is talking with unions about setting up a program to combat sleep apnea.

A federal report on a deadly December derailment in New York City found that the engineer had a severe case of the fatiguing disorder that had gone undiagnosed.

The National Transportation Safety Board noted that Metro-North's medical guidelines don't mention sleep apnea and that federal regulations don't require any testing for it. Railroads around the country have varying practices.

Sleep apnea robs its victims of rest because they repeatedly wake up as their airway closes and their breathing stops. One expert compares it to waterboarding.