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 Amtrak may have prevented the North East Regional Train 188 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, N.J Transit and Amtrak.
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 derailment as a result of a fouled track, or excessive speed.
The Amtrak Train 188 derailment occurred close to Frankford Avenue and Wheatsheaf lane approaching a known dangerous curve in the tracks.
Amtrak trains travel within The North East Corridor at speeds exceeding 100 miles an hour. If this derailment was caused by excessive speed, a positive train control system would have reduced the train speed in this urban and residential area automatically, and would have likely prevented this tragedy.
The question that is posed by the North East Regional Train 188 Disaster is how close is Amtrak in their PTC design to prevent future speed related derailments before the 12/31/2015 deadline?
The firm of Hach & Rose urges all Amtrak employees and their families to take advantage of the Amtrak Employee Assistance program. The firm is offering free FELA and benefit consultations thru our website http://www.unionlawfirm.com or by calling 212 779-0057.