OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The railroad business has put in an computerized braking system on almost 58,000 miles of observe the place it’s required forward of a yearend deadline, federal regulators mentioned Tuesday.
Federal Railroad Administration chief Ronald Batory mentioned railroads labored collectively over the previous 12 years to develop and set up the long-awaited expertise referred to as constructive prepare management, or PTC. The roughly $15 billion braking system is geared toward decreasing human error by routinely stopping trains in sure conditions, corresponding to once they’re at risk of colliding, derailing due to extreme pace, coming into observe below upkeep or touring the mistaken path due to switching errors.
“PTC is a danger discount system that may make a secure business even safer, and supply a stable basis upon which extra security enhancements might be realized,” Batory mentioned.
The Nationwide Transportation Security Board has mentioned greater than 150 prepare crashes since 1969 may have been prevented by constructive prepare management, which was required in 2008 after a commuter prepare collided head-on with a freight prepare close to Los Angeles, killing 25 and injuring greater than 100. That company had really helpful constructive prepare management for years earlier than Congress mandated it after that crash. Then Congress prolonged the unique 2015 deadline twice and gave railroads till the top of this yr to finish the system.
Bob Chipkevich, who oversaw railroad crash investigations for a number of years on the NTSB, mentioned constructive prepare management is a big security enchancment for the business, significantly in areas the place commuter trains function and the place hazardous gases are transported, however added that it may have been carried out years earlier and it’s nonetheless not required on all tracks nationwide.
“After I was at NTSB, we had been fairly disillusioned in how lengthy it took to truly transfer ahead with the necessities and growth of the system,” Chipkevich mentioned. “It’s a disappointment that it has taken so lengthy.”
Railroad analyst Tony Hatch mentioned the business had to ensure every railroad’s system would work with these put in by different railroads as a result of trains hauling folks and items typically journey throughout a number of totally different railroads’ tracks.
“It was an costly, sophisticated and time consuming venture,” Hatch mentioned.
The braking system makes use of GPS, wi-fi radio and computer systems to watch prepare place and pace, and it may give engineers instructions. The NTSB mentioned the system may have prevented the December 2017 derailment of an Amtrak passenger prepare in Washington state that killed three passengers and injured 57 folks.
Ian Jefferies, CEO of the Affiliation of American Railroads commerce group, mentioned finishing the constructive prepare management methods is a vital milestone for the business that may “improve security and springboard innovation lengthy into the long run.”