March 6, 2015

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 allows reduction in PTC mileage

WASHINGTON – The Federal Railroad Administration has granted railroads greater flexibility to determine on which lines positive train control (PTC) must be installed by the federal deadline of Dec. 31, 2015. PTC initially was mandated for 70,000 track miles, but 10,000 of those miles are expected to be removed from PTC installation under the new [...]

L.A. Metrolink CEO heading to Patriot Rail

Fenton.John

The chief executive of Los Angeles Metrolink, John Fenton, who has taken the lead among railroads nationwide in advancing, investing in and implementing positive train control (PTC), is departing after two years on the job to head the Florida-based short line holding company Patriot Rail. Patriot Rail owns 12 short line railroads operating in 12 [...]

FRA beefs-up its PTC team

WASHINGTON – The FRA has has strengthened its positive train control (PTC) team, naming Mark Hartong as senior scientific technical adviser for railroad electronic systems within the FRA’s Office of Safety. Hartong’s primary responsibility, said the agency, “will be to ensure that electronic technology is applied in a manner that will support the safety and [...]

Conservatives pressing attack on working families

U.S. Capitol Building; Capitol Building; Washington D.C.

Public transportation funding, transportation jobs, workplace safety, Railroad Retirement and Medicare are under a mean-spirited and sustained attack by congressional conservatives who are trying to muscle their agenda through Congress prior to the November elections. The UTU and Sheet Metal Workers International Association – now combined into the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) – [...]

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, [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]