The accident avoidance technology known as positive train control, may have prevented a fatal Metro-North derailment in December, 2013.
Congress mandated PTC in the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008. However, recently the Journal News reported on how a group of Senate Democrats say they want to give railroads a three-year extension on their deadline they face to install the safety system.
It’s actually a shorter extension than the five years recently approved by a Senate panel but an extension, nevertheless.
The Journal News noted how positive train control would have prevented the fatal Metro-North derailment in December 2013. At least that’s according to findings by the National Transportation Safety Board. The accident was linked to drowsiness from the driver. A commuter train was speeding at 85 mph as it went into a dangerous curve near the Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx in New York.
News reports stated that Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York were two of the five sponsors of the legislation that would allow Metro-North and other railroads until the end of 2018 to complete installing the stabilization technology.
Congress originally imposed a deadline of Dec. 31, 2015 under the 2008 Rail Safety Improvement Act. It was an ambitious target and it was not achievable, mainly because of regulatory delays by the Federal Communications Commission.
The logistics are certainly daunting. Fitting trains with positive train controls would entail installing new equipment on more than 29,000 locomotives and constructing 35,000 wayside antennas to transmit data.
The FCC did not iron out a final licensing agreement for installation of the antennas, most of which will mounted on poles, until May 2014.
There are some competing proposals which will be offered when the legislation reaches the Senate floor
Given the large number of accidents we have seen recently involving passenger trains, PTC cannot come soon enough. However, it’s an unprecedented technical and operational challenge. Since the enactment of the 2008 legislation, railroads have devoted a considerable amount of resources to develop a fully functioning PTC system over more than 60,000 miles that are subject to the PTC mandate. Railroads have retained more than 2,400 signal system personnel to bring in PTC and they have already spent $5 billion on PTC development and deployment. Railroads expect to spend more than $9 billion before development and installation is complete.
If you have been hurt in a railroad accident, either as a passenger or an employee, you should call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at 866-455-657.