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

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, as well as, 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.

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. The majority of train related fatalities are due to interactions with vehicular traffic at road grade crossings and in 2009 alone there were 247 fatalities.

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 use of radio communications to provide in-cab signals to the train engineer and the ability for 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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