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Blumenthal Demands That Metro-North Install New Train Controls Immediately

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John Minchillo
/
AP

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut demanded that Metro-North Railroad finish installing positive train control immediately. Blumenthal made the demand in a letter he sent to the head of Metro-North on Aug. 12.

"Metro-North has been indefinite and distant in setting a deadline," he said. "It was supposed to establish positive train control by the end of this year, but that isn’t happening."

Positive train control technology 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.

Congress passed a law in 2008 requiring that all railroads install positive train control by the end of this year. But a report released this month by the Federal Railroad Administration says most railroads around the country will not meet the end-of-year deadline. Metro-North said they won't be able to complete installation of the system until 2018.

"The MTA is moving forward as quickly as possible to install and integrate PTC technology on 1,455 rail cars and 588 route miles covering the two busiest commuter railroad systems in the country," said Meredith Daniels, a Metro-North media liaison, in a statement. "Metro-North and LIRR have made significant interim investments pursuant to recommendations from the FRA and NTSB to ensure the safety of their respective systems and are confident that they can continue to operate safely until full implementation of PTC. Portions of the system will be operational next year and the entire system will be operational by 2018."

Blumenthal also wrote to the Federal Railroad Administration today saying he wants them to impose stiff penalties on the railroads for failing to meet the deadline.

"These penalties should be more than just the cost of doing business," he said. "They should create incentives for railroads to implement this essential, lifesaving program."

Metro-North believes imposing financial penalties is detrimental to implementing the system.

"Forcing fines on the MTA and other railroads that have worked closely with the FRA to establish safe implementation timelines distracts from our joint goal of installing PTC expeditiously," Daniels said.

Blumenthal said positive train control could have prevented the deaths of 4 people who were killed when a Metro-North train derailed in the Bronx in 2013.

As a member of the WSHU Public Radio news team since 1991, Shelley Hassman-Kadish has worn many hats. But more importantly as far as listeners are concerned, Shelley is a trusted voice on WSHU.
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