Philadelphia Amtrak Crash May Provide New Impetus for Positive Train Control
Just two weeks ago I wrote about delays to a safety system on the railroad called Positive Train Control (PTC) that may have prevented the derailment of a Metro-North train that killed four in 2013.
I wrote about how Congress mandated PCT in 2008 but the measures keep being delayed by congress. Now an even more deadly train crash that injured passengers and crew, and killed six people, has made the need for this safety system appear to be even more urgent.
Six people died and more than 200 people were treated at hospitals, in the wake of an Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia on Tuesday night.
Seven members of the National Transportation Safety Board arrived at the derailment site in Port Richmond in Philadelphia on Wednesday morning and more are arriving, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said. Investigators are set to look at a number of factors, including the track, the train signals, the operation of the train, its mechanical condition and human performance.
There is some speculation that excessive speed may have been a factor, but that has yet to be confirmed.
The accident may lead to more speculation about the need for PCT. Positive train control is a “set of highly advanced technologies designed to automatically stop or slow a train before certain types of accidents occur,” according to the Association of American Railroads.
The $9 billion improvement is intended to:
1 Prevent train-to-train collisions;
2 Derailments caused by excessive speed
3 Unauthorized incursions by trains onto parts of the track where maintenance activities are taking place
4 Movement of a train through a track switch that has been left in the wrong position.
Accidents like those we saw in the Bronx in 2013 and in Philadelphia this week, may have been avoided if PCT was in place. However, the technology may have been less effective in preventing accidents on railroad crossings. There have been three serious railroad crossing accidents in 2015 – in New York, in California and in North Carolina.
The crash in the outskirts of New York left six people dead. As well as passengers, the lives of crew members are put at risk by these incidents. Recently I wrote about how railroad workers face “unique forms of trauma” after these accidents.
CNN reported how the Philadelphia crash occurred hours before the House Appropriations Committee met to debate a transportation bill, which deals in part with funding that same service.
“That committee meeting, which had been previously scheduled, comes amid calls from Amtrak supporters to boost funding to improve the service’s aging infrastructure while budget hawks seek to reduce funding for the public rail service,” reported CNN.
If you have been involved in an accident on the railroad, if you have lost a loved one or if you and have suffered injury and trauma, you should call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers.