Metro-North Will Not Meet Deadline For Safety Technology Installation

Metro-North Commuter Railroad will not meet a year-end deadline to install technology that prevents trains from exceeding speed limits and helps avoid collisions, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) reported to Congress this week.

According to the report from the FRA, only 29 percent of commuter train lines are targeting to complete the installation of Positive Train Control (PTC) by the deadline. The national deadline was set in 2008, after a California passenger train derailed killing 25 people. The accident prompted Congress to pass the Rail Safety Improvement Act, which required both commuter and freight lines around the country to install the technology by the end of 2015.

An approved PTC system should help correct human error and prevent train-to-train collisions, over-speed derailments, unauthorized incursions by a train into a work zone, and movement of a train through an improperly aligned switch. Westchester officials made a push to implement the technology after this year’s car-train collision in Valhalla, the deadliest in Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) history.

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In April, the Federal Railroad Administration granted the MTA almost $1 billion in loans to help implement the technology on Metro-North and Long Island Railroad trains. Despite the financial assistance, the FRA reports that none of the 681 Metro-North locomotives intended for the equipment have received it.

A federal report found that a PTC system would have prevented the 2013 Metro-North derailment in Spuyten Duyvil that killed four. The National Transportation Safety Board also reported that the May 12 Amtrak derailment near Philadelphia could have been prevented with PTC.

By December 2015, PTC will be in service throughout the sections of the Northeast Corridor operated and maintained by Amtrak. Full implementation of the technology for all commuter lines is expected by 2020. 

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