Maloney Reflects on Five-Year Anniversary of Spuyten Duyvil Derailment, Looming PTC Deadline
In Response to Tragedy, Maloney Authored Three Laws to Improve Rail Safety, Including PTC Provisions
WASHINGTON - Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) released the following statement a day in advance of the five-year anniversary of the Metro-North derailment near Spuyten Duyvil in the Bronx. The accident killed four people, including two of Rep. Maloney’s constituents and injured dozens more. The statement also addresses the December 31st deadline for implementation of the positive train control (PTC) rail safety system, which would have prevented the accident. Metro-North, which serves much of the Congressman’s district and operated the train which derailed at Spuyten Duyvil, is expected to receive a two-year extension because it has made significant progress toward bringing the system online.
“I knew Jim Lovell who died during the accident and I’m still close with his wife, Nancy. Our kids went to school together and we saw each other around Cold Spring a lot. This was a loss that hit very close to home. I remember being at their house after the accident and that left a big impression on me. The derailment happened at the beginning of my time in Congress, and that experience informed my priorities as a representative of the people who had just lost their loved ones.
“Since the accident, Metro-North has taken this issue seriously and obtained federal funding I fought to make available through the RRIF program. Obviously, I would like to see 100% implementation by the end of the year, but Metro-North has made important progress and should qualify for a two-year extension.
“This is the end of the line though, as far as I’m concerned – we’re not going to hand out any more extensions. Metro-North needs to get this done within that two-year window. Clock’s ticking.”
Rep. Maloney is a national leader on rail safety, including the implementation of PTC technology. In 2015, he worked to pass the Commuter Rail Passenger Safety Act through the House of Representatives. The legislation would make all positive train control installations "priority projects" as part of the $35 billion Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) Program that currently provides loans and loan guarantees to railroads. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) successfully applied for nearly $1 billion in RRIF funding to facilitate the implementation of PTC technology on Metro-North in 2015, after Rep. Maloney’s legislation passed.
Rep. Maloney also worked to pass the Passenger Train Derailment Prevention Act of 2015 into law. The bill requires passenger railroads and freight lines on which passenger rail travels to identify high-hazard curves, like those involved in the Spuyten Duyvil, Philadelphia, and Washington State train derailments, and take actions to enhance safety through modification of existing ATC or other signal systems, increasing crew size, installing signage at those locations, installing of alerters in cabs, and increasing crew communication. He also worked to pass legislation through the House, which the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) voluntarily adopted, which required a progress report to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees on the status of railroad compliance with the Positive Train Control (PTC) requirement.
Earlier this year, Rep. Maloney grilled federal officials on the status of implementation and introduced legislation to preclude any extensions for implementation beyond the 2018 deadline.