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Amtrak Activates Positive Train Control For Northeast Rail Corridor

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(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
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Amtrak said the entire Northeast Corridor now has Positive Train Control.

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.

The system has been operating on the stretch of the corridor from New Haven, Connecticut to Boston. This weekend, the safety system was activated on the tracks between New York and Philadelphia. The section between Philadelphia and Washington was activated a week ago.

In May, Amtrak suffered a deadly crash in Philadelphia that killed eight people and injured 200. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board said the crash could have been prevented if positive train control had been operating.

A 2008 federal law gave railroads around the country until the end of this year to install the safety system, but the Federal Railroad Administration said in August that most railroads around the country would not meet the deadline. In October, President Barack Obama signed a law that extended the deadline for three to five years.

Both Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road say they are installing positive train control and expect to be finished by 2018.

Two years ago this month a Metro-North train derailed in the Bronx, when an engineer nodded off at the controls. The train traveled into a curve, which has a 30 mph speed limit, at 82 mph. Four passengers were killed and more than 70 others were injured.

This report contains information from the Associated Press.

Ann is an editor and senior content producer with WSHU, including founding producer of the midday talk show, The Full Story.
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