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Maloney: MTA Decision to Accelerate Installation of Positive Train Control an Important Step Forward

Apr 29, 2014
Press Release

After announcing new rail safety legislation with federal lawmakers representing areas served by the Metro-North rail, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) commended MTA’s decision to accelerate the installation of positive train control. MTA’s decision will allow railroads to expedite by up to nearly two years the retrofitting of 474 Metro-North rail cars to enable them for send and receive Positive Train Control signals. It will also deploy equipment at 175 locations alongside the tracks that will facilitate communication between the Positive Train Control central computers and the computers on board trains. This move will expedite by up to one year the installation of PTC on territory covering 85% to 90% of the railroads’ customers.

“Installing positive train control systems in our commuter rail systems like Metro-North is the single most important step towards reducing human error and saving lives – we have to act to ensure the safety of our neighbors and families,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney.

Today, Rep. Maloney joined Connecticut Representatives Rosa DeLauro, Jim Himes and Elizabeth Esty to announce legislation that would require railroads to implement railroad safety risk reduction program, repeal the grandfathering of “alerters” and require a timeline for implementing Positive Train Control. In December, Rep. Maloney introduced the Commuter Rail Passenger Safety Act which would explicitly allow commuter rail systems to apply for loans and loan guarantees to invest in Positive Train Control (PTC) 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 and expired on October 1, 2013.

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 more than 50 people were killed and 900 people were injured. In each of these accidents including the Metro-North derailment, the NTSB concluded that PTC would have provided critical redundancy that would have prevented the accident. Year after year, the NTSB has named PTC as one of its "most-wanted" initiatives for national transportation safety.