By John Cooper, FELA Accident Lawyer
I have written before about Positive Train Control, a system that may have prevented the terrible Amtrak crash in Philadelphia last year and would save many railroad workers from injuries.
PTC can automatically slow or stop trains to avoid collisions and derailments and protect areas of track where crews are working. The only problem with the system is the fact America’s big railroads are dragging their heels when it comes to implementing it.
Three of the biggest railroads in North America – Canadian National Railway, CSX and Norfolk Southern say they won’t meet a 2018 deadline for the installation of this key piece of railroad safety technology, reported Progressive Railroading.
A list provided from the Federal Railroad Administration reveals these three railroads say they won’t be ready to install PTC until 2020. A number of smaller commuter railroads in Illinois, Florida, Massachusetts and Texas also said they will miss the deadline.
Amtrak is already operating a version of the technology on its tracks but it’s far from comprehensive because most of Amtrak’s operations outside the Northeast are on track owned by freight railroads. Three freight railroads said they would be able to meet the 2018 deadline.
The 2018 date itself represents a postponement of the new safety measures. At the end of last year, Congress extended an original deadline of Dec. 31, 2015, to the end of 2018, as railroads threatened to shut down operations. The new legislation contains provisions, under certain circumstances, that railroads would have until 2020 to implement the safety technology.
However, after Congress approved the later date, FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg told railroads they should not assume they have until 2020 to install and begin using PTC on their networks. As long as years ago I was warning the big railroads were backsliding on PTC.
It has taken many tragedies to force the hand of legislators. Congress opted for positive train control in the wake of one of the nation’s worst train accidents in 2008, when a Metrolink commuter train hit a freight train head-on near Los Angeles in California, leaving 25 people dead and injuring more than 100.
We frequently see accidents in rail yards that injure or kill workers that could be avoided if PTC was in place. If you have been injured on the railroad, call me at (866) 455-6657.