A Connecticut lawmaker is speaking out about the delays in railroads installing Positive Train Control technology, which can automatically stop a train before an accident occurs. It's a GPS-based system that monitors a train's location. The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 required the system be installed on all commuter trains by the end of 2015. With the deadline less than six months away, 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty took part in a Congressional subcommittee hearing recently on the state of implementation.
Esty says she understands there are challenges, but wants the technology installed as quickly and safely as possible. She noted that this technology has been discussed since a fatal collision in 1969.
The acting leader of the Federal Railroad Administration told Esty that the organization needs the authority over PTC systems in order to test them, as well as to provide for interim safety measures when they do not meet the deadline.
Metro North and Connecticut could be fined by the Federal Railroad Administration if they fail to install positive train control on the tracks by a December 31st deadline. Connecticut owns the tracks that Metro North trains use in the state, and is responsible for paying for the safety system. But officials say that it won't be fully implemented until 2018. A state Department of Transportation spokesman says the state likely won't be fined as long as they can show progress is being made on installation of the sensors which can apply the brakes if a train is moving too fast for conditions.
In May, Esty offered an amendment authorizing $750 million to help passenger railroads implement PTC.