Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement on the Amtrak Train 188 derailment and the use of Positive Train Control (PTC), a life-saving technology that can automatically stop trains and prevent accidents. Had PTC been in place, it would have prevented the recent accident near Philadelphia, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the Amtrak Train 188 derailment and their families. Sadly, this accident could have been prevented by Positive Train Control, a crash-avoidance system that exists today and is already being deployed on some rail lines.
“I’ve worked on this issue since the 2008 Metrolink crash near Chatsworth, Calif., which killed 25 and injured 135. I’m pleased to see Metrolink is expected to fully deploy PTC by the federally-mandated deadline of December 31, 2015, something most other railroads will not achieve.
“The railroad industry has been lobbying furiously to delay the mandate, and the Senate Commerce Committee has put forward a bill granting a blanket extension for five to seven years. In my view, that is an extremely reckless policy.
“To the degree that extensions are necessary based on legitimate technology or funding issues, they should be handled on a case-by-case basis with a limited time frame. In 2012, the Senate passed language along those lines, though it did not ultimately become law. This year I introduced a bill with similar language to keep pressure on the railroads. I hope the Senate will again vote to support the fastest possible deployment of PTC.
“The Amtrak tragedy and other recent accidents that could have been prevented by PTC underscore the simple fact that further unnecessary delays are unacceptable and irresponsible. I’ll continue the fight for the rapid installation of PTC nationwide to prevent more avoidable loss of life.”
Senator Feinstein’s PTC bill, the Positive Train Control Safety Act (S.1006), is cosponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.).