Washington, D.C. – After touring the site of the tragic Metro-North train derailment with NTSB officials and Senator Chuck Schumer, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) announced legislation, the Commuter Rail Passenger Safety Act, to help commuter rail lines like Metro-North fund and implement positive train control (PTC) systems. Today the NTSB confirmed that PTC would have prevented the Metro-North crash.
“This strategic investment is critical to protecting the hundreds of thousands of riders that travel on Metro-North and systems like it every day,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney. “Installing positive train control systems in our commuter rail systems is the single most important step towards reducing human error and saving lives - the safety of our neighbors and families is too important to wait.”
Specifically, Rep. Maloney’s legislation would explicitly allow commuter rail systems to apply for loans and loan guarantees to invest in positive train control systems for their existing lines through the Federal Railroad Administration’s Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) Program. This existing program provides direct loans and loan guarantees of up to $35 billion to finance the development of critical railroad infrastructure. In addition, Rep. Maloney’s legislation would reauthorize the Railroad Safety Technology Grant Program and increase the total investments to half a billion dollars over the next five years. This program funds the deployment of train control technologies, electronically controlled pneumatic brakes, rail integrity warning systems, switch position indicators and monitors, and other new or novel railroad safety technology such as PTC. This program expired on October 1, 2013.
During the consideration of MAP-21 last Congress, the Senate passed a provision to allow rail systems to explicitly apply for loans and loan guarantees for positive train control systems. This provision was removed from the final version signed into law.
In 2008, Congress passed a law mandating positive train control systems for commuter and freight railroads, however there have been difficulties meeting this deadline due in part to funding issues. Since 2005, the NTSB has investigated 15 accidents in which 50 people were killed and 942 people were injured. In each of these accidents, the NTSB concluded that PTC would have provided critical redundancy that would have prevented the accident.
Year after year, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has named PTC as one of its "most-wanted" initiatives for national transportation safety.