(Washington, DC – February 11, 2015)
Any hopes that America’s Class One freight and hazardous material hauling railroads or railroads that carry passengers might gain a five-year extension of their December 1, 2015 mandate, through the 2008 Rail Safety Improvement Act, to have a fully-functioning Positive Train Control System in place were given the cold shoulder by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx Wednesday as he spoke before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
PTC uses satellite and computer technology to stop or slow trains that are heading for an accident but human frailty fails to halt. Recent fatal accidents on the Metro-North commuter-carrying railroad have placed the system in the forefront of safety improvement action once more. The National Transportation Safety Board has long advocated an even earlier activation of the system which was proposed and made law after a Los Angeles Metro-Link commuter train ran red signals and plowed into a standing Union Pacific freight train in Chatsworth, CA in September, 2008, killing 25 and injuring over 100 passengers and train crew.
Although both the Obama Administration and both Houses of Congress have continued to budget money into 2016 to assist railroads in complying with the Act, Secretary Foxx told the Committee that his Department was “continuing to hold the industry’s feet to the fire in getting PTC done as quickly as possible instead of allowing a ‘blanket extension.’”