Positive Train Control To Save Lives Leads to Shut Down Threat
We hear a lot about railroad accidents with many fatalities and injuries but not so much about measures that are intended to make trains safer.
However, Congress has measures in place to automate train navigation which it has told railroads to impose by Dec. 31 this year. The downside is the railroads say they likely won’t be able to meet the deadline and are threatening to shut down services unless it’s extended.
The Hill reported how railroads at present have until Dec. 31 to fit the automated train navigation system known as Positive Train Control (PTC), which regulates the movement and speed of trains. There has been considerable speculation that PTC may have prevented recent tragedies such as the Amtrak crash in Philadelphia that left eight people dead.
“Several companies have already said they will shut down service in January 2016 to avoid fines for not meeting the deadline,” reported The Hill.
The issue has all the elements of an impasse. Supporters of the industry in Congress are backing an extension of the deadline, but rail regulators within the Obama administration say their hands are tied unless Congress passes an extension of the mandate.
The deadline of the end of this year was set in 2008 after a commuter rail crash in California. It applies to most of the country’s freight and railroad lines.
Sarah Feinberg, Acting Federal Railroad Administration chief, bemoaned the lack of flexibility in the law in The Hill article. “There are many railroads that making a good faith effort and we believe have been working diligently toward PTC implementation, but the law and the statute and the deadline is very black and white and in our read does not give flexibility to railroads that are acting diligently and railroads who are not,” she said during a confirmation hearing for her appointment to a full time position.
Lawmakers have pushed to extend the federal deadline for railroad companies to install PTC, but that effort stalled after the deadly Philadelphia Amtrak crash in May that killed multiple passengers injured 200 plus highlighting the obvious need for a system that would control speed. The train crashed at 100 mph on a curve. It was traveling at double the speed for that stretch of track.
The Hill noted a report from the General Accountability Office the suggested about two-thirds of 29 major railroads that were reviewed will not complete the installation of the train automation technology before the Dec 31 deadline.
If you have been hurt or lost a loved one in a railroad crash, call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at 757.455.0077.