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Union Pacific CEO Calls Rail Safety System “A Terrible Waste of Money”

By Pottroff & Karlin LLC |

(New York, New York – September 8, 2011)

A type of crash-avoidance system called “positive train control”, intended to prevent accidents such as the 2008 Chatsworth, CA collision between a Metrolink commuter train and a Union Pacific freight train when the engineer of the passenger train, distracted by texting, was called “A terrible waste of money” by UPRR CEO Jim Young.

In an interview with The Bloomberg Group this past week, Young called the Obama administration’s projected $1 billion savings for the railroad industry over 20 years with the new technology “a token amount.”

The UP CEO said UPRR is spending $285 million on installation of PTC this year, and will spend another $300 to $350 million next year on the system Young claimed is technology that “is not proven to work.” He said that adoption of the PTC system –required to be fully operational by the end of 2015 on routes shared between freight and passenger trains as well as routes where toxic chemicals are transported – will be “a cost that will be borne by every customer that uses the railroad.”

Young further stressed that UPRR will reduce capital investment if the U.S. Surface Transportation Board forces competitive service for “captive shippers” – those customers whose only shipping outlet is a single railroad line – upon the railroad industry. .


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