According to a Federal Railroad Administration report released on Aug. 7, only three rail companies are expected to meet the deadline to install positive train control safety technology. Residents of New York and other states across the country who use the rails for commuting might be surprised to learn that the deadline is the end of the year.
BNSF Railway is the only freight railroad to file safety plans with the government, and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and Los Angeles’ Metrolink are the only commuter railroads to submit safety plans. The submission is required before the companies can implement the safety technology.
The nation’s railroads were given seven years to install the technology when Congress passed a rail safety law in 2008. The positive train control technology relies on computers, GPS and wireless radio to monitor the position of trains. It allows the railroads to automatically slow or stop trains that could derail because they are moving too fast, are on a collision course with other trains or are near rail work crews. Although Amtrak has not filed its plan, representatives say that the PTC technology should be in operation in the Northeast Corridor by the deadline. Other rail companies are farther behind, with the largest freight railroad, Union Pacific, not having any of its trains equipped with the technology.
Railroad companies have tried to get Congress to push back the deadline, and a bill was introduced earlier in 2015 to give them five to seven more years. This is mainly because the PTC is expensive, and creating a system that multiple railroads can use has made the effort more complex.
Many of the people who were injured in the Amtrak derailment earlier in 2015 were employees of that railroad company. People who are injured on the job might want to speak with an attorney to determine their eligibility to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.