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Blumenthal Calls For Positive Train Control Nationwide After Washington Derailment

Adam E. Moreira
Creative Commons
A train on the Metro-North rail line. A Connecticut Department of Transportation spokesman said Tuesday that it hopes to have Positive Train Control on the New Haven Line by 2019.

Parts of the rail lines across the Northeast still don’t have Positive Train Control, also known as PTC. Officials said that the system could have prevented an Amtrak train derailment in Washington state that killed at least three people Monday.

Just as he did back in 2015, Senator Richard Blumenthal has called for all rail lines across the country to implement PTC. Blumenthal said the railroad companies complain that implementation will cost too much.

“The railroads have resources of their own—more than sufficient—and the costs of failing to implement this system way exceed the costs of installing it,” Blumenthal told WNPR.

A member of the National Transportation and Safety Board said the train in the Washington derailment was going 80 mph in a 30 mph zone.

The computer-based system matches the speed of a train with track conditions and is supposed to automatically stop a train if it is in danger of crashing.

The original law for PTC was passed in 2008, but didn’t have to be mandated until 2015 so that the technology could be implemented. The deadline was then extended three years to 2018.

“Congress required railroads to install it by 2015 and then the railroads essentially succeeded in pushing the deadlines back because of their political weight,” said Blumenthal, who wanted PTC to be implemented immediately back then.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation said it will have PTC on Metro-North’s New Haven Line by the end of 2018, while Amtrak said its segments from New Haven to Boston already have it. 

Frankie Graziano is the host of The Wheelhouse, focusing on how local and national politics impact the people of Connecticut.

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