August 29, 2014

Opinion: How much safety are rails willing to pay for?

When a train derails and people die, as happened Dec. 1 in New York, there are going to be lots of questions. Eventually, there will be answers to most. But will anyone be able to answer this question: How much are the lives of train passengers worth? On Dec. 2, as investigators probed the crash [...]

N.Y. rep. proposes action to prevent railway accidents

WASHINGTON — A New York congressman is proposing legislation aimed at preventing another accident like Sunday’s fatal Metro-North derailment in the Bronx. The proposal from Democratic Rep. Sean Maloney of Cold Spring would help Metro-North and other commuter rail systems apply for federal loans to upgrade trains with “positive train controls” to prevent collisions, switching [...]

Canada eyes PTC following disaster

After the recent disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is looking at possibly implementing positive train control (PTC) systems on its railroads. In 2010 and 2012, two major train derailments have been linked to trainmen not following signal indications. The incident in 2010 at Saint-Charles-de-Bellechase, Quebec, only caused injuries and [...]

PTC extension introduced by committee

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation introduced a positive train control (PTC) extension bill. The bill seeks to extend the statutory deadline for PTC implementation by five years to Dec. 31, 2020, as well as provide another optional two-year extension on 60,000 miles of track across the country. Shortline railroads that operate [...]

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 [...]