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U.S. Senate Passes Bill To Extend Positive Train Control Deadline

(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

Wednesday afternoon the Senate passed a bill that would extend the December deadline for railroads to install Positive Train Control by three to five years.

Positive train control is a safety system installed on train tracks to prevent crashes and derailments. The system automatically slows down or stops a train if its engineer misses a signal or goes over the speed limit.

Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.), a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee, said railroads said they would have to shutdown to avoid breaking the law by operating without having positive train control by the deadline, so congress had to extend it.

“The railroads are not ready to meet the deadline," she said. "And we can spend a lot of time blaming each other about why that is true, but my interest is in trying to get them on track as soon as possible, get them the funding they need, and get them committed, and hold them accountable for those commitments."

Esty said the railroads will be held accountable under heightened public scrutiny. She said Positive Train Control could have prevented a number of recent fatal accidents, including the Amtrak derailment near Philadelphia that killed 8 people and injured 200 in May.

A 2008 law gave railroads until the end of this year to implement the technology. Earlier this year, the Federal Railroad Administration said most railroads around the country will not meet the deadline to install positive train control on their tracks.

Tuesday, the U.S. House passed a bill to extend a deadline for railroads to install Positive Train Control.

Metro-­North has said they expect to be finished installing positive train control by 2018.

Cassandra Basler, a former senior editor at WSHU, came to the station by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.
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