Vital rail-safety upgrade may get delayed for three years

A federal bill amendment could push back the deadline by which railroads are expected to install a vital safety upgrade.

Congress may extend deadline for positive train control to 2018

Rail safety experts have expressed outrage over a proposal to delay the deadline by which railroads across the country are expected to have a key safety upgrade installed, according to United Press International. The upgrade, called positive train control (PTC), has the potential to prevent serious train accidents from happening, particularly those caused by excessive speed. While railroads were expected to have PTC installed by December 31 of this year, the U.S. Congress is debating whether to delay the deadline to 2018.

Positive train control

PTC is a technology to can monitor and control the speeds at which trains are traveling. If a train is going too fast, the system can step in and automatically slow it down. While PTC has been available for decades, it was only after a major accident in California in 2008 that caused 28 fatalities that Congress passed a measure making PTC mandatory on freight and commuter railroads across the country. At the time, railroads were given seven years-that is, until December 31, 2015-to have PTC installed throughout their networks.

The need for PTC was shown yet again earlier this year with the derailment of an Amtrak train in Philadelphia. As the New York Times reports, safety experts say that had PTC been installed at the time then the accident, which happened while the train was traveling at over twice the speed limit, would likely have been avoided.

Deadline delay

Recently, however, an amendment was added to a transportation funding bill that would delay the deadline for installing PTC to 2018. Rail safety experts have largely denounced the possible extension of the deadline, pointing out that the technology has been available for decades and railroads have already been given seven years to install it. The railroad companies, meanwhile, claim they do not have the money to install PTC.

Even if the 2015 deadline remains in place, however, it is unlikely that most railroads in the country will actually have PTC installed by the end of this year. The Senate Transportation Committee has noted that “the vast majority of commuter and freight railroads” will not be able to meet the end-of-year deadline. If those railroads miss the deadline, they could be exposed to severe liability issues as well as hefty federal fines.

Railroad accidents

For those who work on the railroad, safety is a paramount and daily concern. For workers who have been injured, the process of obtaining compensation to help cope with lost income and medical expenses can be difficult, especially since railroad injury claims differ substantially from other personal injury cases. Any railroad worker who has been injured at his job should get in touch with a personal injury attorney who is experienced in railroad injury claims, like the lawyers at Rossi Vucinovich PC. Such a lawyer will have the unique expertise and knowledge that can prove invaluable when it comes to getting the maximum compensation a railroad worker may deserve following an accident or injury.

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