April 16, 2014

How to prevent America’s next train crash

The evening of Jan. 5, 2005, was dry and cool in Graniteville, S.C. At 6:10, a 12-car Norfolk Southern freight train pulled up to the Avondale Mills textile plant, and Jim Thornton, a conductor with 18 years’ experience, climbed down from the locomotive to open a switch and let the train roll onto a siding. [...]

FRA: Intensive conductor training essential

FRA logo

One of the strongest studies validating the need for two-person crews and intensive training for conductors has come from the Federal Railroad Administration. The conclusion is that the conductor and engineer function as a team, with managing multiple priorities essential to safe train operation – especially with regard to use of positive train control technology [...]

New surface transport law a mixed bag

capitol

It’s not all we wanted, but, maybe more important, it’s not as bad as it could have been. Given the polarization of this Congress, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century – MAP-21 – is as good a new transportation authorization bill as we could have hoped for. Passed by bipartisan majorities in [...]

Metrolink leading way installing PTC

Metrolink _Train_Only v2

Positive train control (PTC) is modern technology to reduce train accidents, save lives and limbs, improve on-time performance and produce revenue-enhancing business benefits for railroads. PTC utilizes the satellite global positioning system (GPS), wireless communications and central control centers to monitor trains and prevent collisions by automatically applying the brakes on trains exceeding authorized speeds, [...]

House bill would slash Amtrak, transit funding

WASHINGTON – The Republican leadership of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee will introduce legislation July 8 to slash Amtrak’s federal subsidy by 25 percent, prevent federal funds from being used to create additional rail passenger services unless they are high-speed projects, and cut federal transit funding by 30 percent. Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.), and [...]

PTC installation could be trimmed 10,000 miles

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration suggests scaling back by 10,000 miles a federal mandate that positive train control (PTC) be installed on some 140,000 miles of freight and passenger track no later than Dec. 31, 2015. The 10,000 miles represents track over which freight railroads say neither passengers nor dangerous hazmat will be transported in [...]

Why PTC? ‘Cause people aren’t hogs & logs

WASHINGTON — Two commuter railroads — Los Angeles Metrolink and Chicago Metra – get it. They recognize that commuters aren’t hogs and logs on freight trains, and passenger and crew safety is paramount. Unfortunately, 24 other commuter railroads don’t get it. Under the umbrella of the American Public Transit Association (APTA), those other commuter railroads [...]

FRA to scale back miles for PTC installation

WASHINGTON — The Federal Railroad Administration has agreed to a request by railroads to scale back the number of rail route miles over which positive train control (PTC) must be implemented before January 2016. Railroads asserted that since the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 was passed ordering the PTC installation, followed by an FRA [...]

Senate bill would cut track miles for PTC

WASHINGTON — The senior Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, introduced legislation Feb. 8 to reduce the rail route miles over which positive train control (PTC) must be implemented before January 2016. Senate co-sponsors include John Thune (R-S.D.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). The Rail Safety Improvement Act [...]

Record profits, but UP opposes PTC costs

On the same day (Jan. 20) Union Pacific reported record fourth quarter and record calendar year 2010 profits, UP Chairman Jim Young said he is headed to Washington to meet with President Obama’s economic advisers to oppose a congressional mandate that railroads implement crash-avoidance positive train control by year-end 2015. UP told investors its 2010 [...]