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NEW YORK (AP) A longtime transit official who helped form the nation's second-busiest railroad said Thursday he would retire as its president at the end of the month following a year of problems including a derailment that caused the first passenger deaths in its history.

Howard Permut has served as head of the Metro-North Railroad since 2008 and is largely credited with expanding service and increasing ridership for the railroad, which was formed in 1983 and serves 281,000 riders a day in New York and Connecticut. But he came under increasing scrutiny after a speeding train heading into a turn derailed in the Bronx last month, killing four passengers and injuring more than 60 others.

That wreck, which is under federal investigation, followed the death of a track worker struck by a Metro-North train in Connecticut last May, a derailment that left more than 70 people injured that month, a derailment of a freight train full of garbage in July and a power problem that shut down service for commuters in September.

"The tragedies and challenges of the past year have deeply affected me as well as all Metro-North employees," Permut said in a statement issued by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which oversees Metro-North and the nation's busiest railroad, the Long Island Rail Road.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority CEO Thomas Prendergast said in the statement that Metro-North's new president would be Joseph Giulietti, a former executive director of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, which operates the Tri-Rail commuter rail system through Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

Giulietti started his career in New York as a brakeman and assistant conductor on the Penn Central Railroad, eventually working at Metro-North for 15 years. He said he hoped the railroad would remain safe, efficient and effective.

The Metro-North Railroad Commuter Council, a passenger advocacy panel, said it looks forward to "this new chapter for Metro-North Railroad."