Right around this time last year, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a report saying only a small percentage of railroads would be able to meet a December 15, 2015 deadline to implement Positive Train Control (PTC), an advanced technology system designed to monitor and control train movements.
PTC is designed to stop or slow a train before certain types of accidents occur, like the recent Metrolink crash in Oxnard, California that left one person dead and 29 others with injuries. Safety advocates have commented that that crash might not have occurred if PTC had been implemented.
According to Safety and Health Magazine, Congress mandated the implementation of PTC following a 2008 Metrolink train crash in Chatsworth that killed 25 people. Now with roughly nine months left until the deadline, lawmakers are looking to push back the deadline to implement PTC.
Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) said during a March 25 hearing that the railroad industry is going to need a five-year extension to implement the technology due to technological glitches and government delays. If a reprieve isn’t granted, the rail industry will face either shutting down service or breaking the law.
“I think this is a more realistic way to move forward, but certainly it doesn’t denigrate the help that Positive Train Control could provide when we get there,” Blunt said. PTC will without question help save lives. The question is—how long will we have to wait for it now that the deadline has been pushed?