Trains to stop if safety deadline not extended, railroads tell lawmakers

September 12, 2015

The chief executives of the country’s largest railroads this week told lawmakers that they would suspend passenger and freight service at year’s end if Congress doesn’t extend a deadline to install a collision-avoidance system.

Most of the nation’s commuter and freight railroads will not meet the Dec. 31 deadline for positive train control. The bulk of Amtrak and commuter railroads across the country operate over routes owned by the freight carriers.

 In separate letters Wednesday to Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, the executives from BNSF, Union Pacific and CSX wrote that the current law, passed in 2008, does not give them any legal flexibility and announced their plans to embargo trains by the end of December.

“We simply don’t see another option,” wrote Union Pacific President and CEO Lance Fritz.Website Insert Turnkey Packages copy

 The Rail Safety Improvement Act required positive train control on routes carrying intercity passengers, commuters and chemicals that are poisonous or toxic by inhalation.

“We do not, at this juncture, believe we can undertake the legal exposure that would result from continuing those operations after the statutory deadline,” wrote Michael Ward, chairman and CEO of CSX.

BNSF president and CEO Carl Ice said the impact could be even more widespread.

“Our legal analysis calls into question whether we legally may operate any freight or passenger service on such lines,” he wrote.

 

 

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