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Positive Train Control (PTC), a Life-Saving Rail Technology, is Still Not Implemented Nationwide

December 22, 2020

In 2008, U.S. lawmakers passed the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008.  The act included a requirement to implement new rail safety technology called Positive Train Control (PTC).  The Positive Train Control was supposed to be in place nationwide by 2015.  However, the completion deadline has been delayed twice.  The revised completion date is December 31, 2020, but the project is significantly behind schedule. 

Positive Train Control (PTC) is designed to ensure effective communication between all components of rail transit.  Positive Train Control enables the locomotive to communicate with the railroad tracks, rail operation centers, nearby cell towers, and railroad crews.  The technology utilizes WiFi, GPS, and secure radio communications.  In an emergency, the Positive Train Control system can override an engineer's manual operation of a train and stop it. 

According to Jennifer Homendy, a board member of the National Transportation Safety Board, the Positive Train Control will save lives.  The National Transportation Safety Board has primary authority over railroad accidents that result in significant property damage, death, and accidents that involve passenger trains.  The National Transportation Safety Board is an independent safety investigative agency.  The National Transportation Safety Board has been lobbying for expanded railroad safety technology for over 50 years.  Jennifer Homendy stated that the NTSB had investigated 154 train accidents over the past 50 years.  These train accidents have caused 305 deaths and over 6,800 injuries. 

The National Transportation Safety Board placed the technology improvement on its "Most Wanted" list of enhancements every year for over 30 years.  The New Jersey Transit is one of the railroads required to have implemented the Positive Train Control technology.  However, the December 31, 2020 deadline is days away, and the New Jersey Transit will likely not meet the deadline.

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Category: Personal Injury

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