(Washington, DC – November 14, 2012)
It’s a far cry from late night talk show host David Letterman’s “Top 10 List”, but the National Transportation Safety Board wishes as much public support and interest would be shown in the independent safety agency’s “Most Wanted List” of the nation’s 10 top safety challenges for 2013, ironically released earlier the day (Thursday) of the Midland, TX train crossing tragedy.
Principal among the NTSB’s “Wish List” is “Implementation of the PTC (Positive Train Control) System”, which was a mandate of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008. The RSI Act itself was created as a remedy in the aftermath of a horrible accident that occurred in Chatsworth, CA when a Los Angeles Metrolink commuter passenger train ran red signals and collided with a standing Union Pacific freight train. The Metrolink engineer had been found to be texting, and was among the 25 fatalities suffered. Implementation of PTC was among the NTSB’s safety remedial recommendations for the Chatsworth collision.
PTC is a satellite-based safety override system designed to halt human error accidents involving passenger trains and trains carrying hazardous materials. It would require the inclusion of virtually every railroad system in the U.S., and is intended for implementation in 2015.
On Friday, the Association of American Railroads (AAR), which represents America’s Class One railroads and serves as a united voice before Congress and the nation on rail matters said that, although the AAR and its members continue to be committed to a 2015 implementation and have already spent $1.5 billion in private money to comply with the RSI Act’s requirements, AAR Chairman and CEO Edward Hanberger cautioned that both the AAR and Federal Railroad Administration “have acknowledged that unresolved issues make that date unrealistic.”
Yet, the AAR chief said that “The freight railroads remain committed to implementing PTC and are doing all they can to address the challenges that have surfaced as implementation moves forward.”