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Enforcement of Rail Safety Improvement Act Necessary in Wake of Train Tragedy

If you've been injured in an accident or on the job, the attorneys of Hach & Rose, LLP have the knowledge, skills, and experience required to hold the party responsible for your injury accountable.

Last Updated: 07-28-2023
Written by: Michael A. Rose and Gregory Hach

By: Mark Sokoloff

Positive Train Control, enacted by Congress in 2008 as part of The Rail Safety Improvement Act, was mandated to be implemented by Major Passenger and Freight Carriers like CSX, Amtrak, North Burlington Central, and Consolidated Rail, to name a few, by December 31, 2015. A Positive Train Control computer system on Metro North would have prevented the Metro-North Valhalla tragedy. Congress must act now to re-enforce and implement The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008  (RSIA08., P.L.110-432) for Passenger Commuter Trains like the L.I.R.R., Metro-North, and N.J Transit.

Train Crash Statistics

According to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), an average of 200 derailments and 205 train collisions, resulting in 422 injuries and 12 fatalities, occurred annually from 1998 to 2009, excluding the accidents at railway crossings, like the Valhalla N.Y accident. Most train-related fatalities are due to interactions with vehicular traffic at road grade crossings, and in 2009 alone, there were 247 fatalities.

Positive Train Control (PTC) Needed

PTC is designed to prevent “train-to-train collisions, over-speed derailments, incursions into established zones by vehicles, and movement through a switch left in the wrong position” Railroads across the country are mandated to design a PTC system “best suited” for the Carrier’s need to prevent Railway crossing accidents like the recent Metro-North Gate Signal incident.

However, all PTC systems share certain characteristics, including the use of radio communications to provide in-cab signals to the train engineer and the ability of the dispatcher to stop a train in an emergency.

The question that is posed by the Valhalla tragedy is how close is Metro-North Commuter Railroad in their PTC design to prevent future injuries before the 12/31/2015 deadline?

Please call or email your Congressperson today.

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