With two bills pending in Congress that address rail safety, the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) called upon Congress and the Bush Administration, regulators and the railroad industry to move as quickly as possible to implement Positive Train Control (PTC) systems to prevent accidents such as the Metrolink-Union Pacific collision in Chatsworth, Calif.

“The technology involving global-positioning satellites and other components to stop trains from running red signals is already in limited use on BNSF Railway,” said NARP Executive Director Ross B. Capon. “Due to common use of a single vendor by the four biggest private railroads and Metra, the big Chicago area commuter railroad, a de facto national standard for PTC already exists.”

PTC also automatically slows trains when they run too fast by a yellow signal, and offers substantial additional benefits, including improved asset utilization, faster running times and greater reliability, along with increased revenues. Public-and-private benefits include security improvements in capacity, fuel consumption and the environment.

Two pending bills in the Congress would begin to address the need for PTC by requiring Class I railroads to implement PTC in the coming years. The Rail Collision Prevention Act, which Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced this week, would require PTC on U.S. railroads by the end of 2014, while the Federal Railroad Safety Improvement Act of 2007, H.R. 2095, which has passed both chambers of Congress, cleared a conference committee and may see final action before adjournment this week, would require PTC by the end of 2018.

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