April 25, 2014

GAO issues PTC report, urges flexibility

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) made public its report on positive train control (PTC) implementation and issued a trio of recommendations including extending the deadline, approving alternative safety technologies and granting provisional certification of PTC systems. The report said three out of four freight railroads included in its review will not meet the Dec. [...]

Train safety move delayed decades

WASHINGTON – It was an accident investigators say didn’t have to happen: Five years ago a commuter train collided head-on with a freight train near Los Angeles, killing 25 and injuring more than 100. Technology is available to prevent the most catastrophic collisions, but the railroad industry and its allies in Congress are trying to [...]

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. [...]

New surface transport law a mixed bag

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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 [...]

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) – [...]