Most Railroads Won’t Meet Safety Technology Deadline, Report Finds

September 16, 2015

WASHINGTON — Congress should extend the deadline for freight and passenger railroads to install technology that could prevent deadly train accidents, like the Amtrak derailment in May that killed eight people and injured more than 200, according to a report released on Wednesday.

Congress set a deadline of Dec. 31 for freight and commuter rail companies to install the technology, which is known as positive train control, after a California passenger train accident in 2008 killed 25 people. But the new report by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, found that the vast majority of railroads will not meet that deadline.

Amtrak has said it will be able to install and activate the safety systems in the busy Northeast Corridor — which extends from Washington to Boston — by that date, but the new report says that is not the case because parts of that line are owned and operated by different entities.Website Insert 5000 New Seats copy

The report said a number of issues had contributed to delays installing the system, including that the technology is new and that there are a limited number of suppliers. The report said the government had also contributed to delays in installation. For example, railroads had to stop construction along tracks on radio poles — which make the GPS technology work — because they had not gone through an environmental evaluation process.

The report also found that the Federal Railroad Administration had not provided adequate oversight; it took the agency seven months to review the first safety plan it received from a railroad.

Read reporter Ron Nixon’s full story in The New York Times by clicking here.

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