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Few Railroads Set to Meet Safety Deadline

Lauren Fernandez1 year ago

New railroad safety standards set by the federal government are unlikely to be met by the year-end deadline.

About the New Railroad Regulations

Regulators predict that few railroads will meet the deadline imposed by Congress for mandatory new safety systems due to high cost and technological difficulties, reports Reuters.

The year-end deadline set by Congress in 2008 has regulators concerned. The cost of installing PTC, a system of automated controls and sensors that can slow or stop a train, can run into the billions of dollars and many railroads will be unable to meet the deadline.

Railroads face the possibility of fines or service suspension if they do not comply with the safety standards deadline. A six-year transportation bill passed this year enables the Obama administration to grant an extension of up to three years, but it is unlikely that the House of Representatives will take up the topic.

Regulations Could Save Lives

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been calling for PTC since the 1960s, says Reuters. The administration claims that the technology could have prevented 300 deaths and over 6,700 injuries over the past fifty years.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) listed BNSF Railway Co, Southern California’s Metrolink service, and Philadelphia’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority at the three railway services that have submitted plans for PTC installation. 11 other railways are expected to feature PTC technologies including Canadian Pacific Railway Co, Norfolk Southern Corp, and Union Pacific Corp, said that FRA report.

Amtrak says that it will have PTC technology operating in segments of the northeast Corridor. This statement comes after the Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia which killed eight and injured more than 200.

Railroad Accident Statistics
  • Newsweek and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report railroad deaths went up 6-percent from 2012 to 2013, from 840 to 891. The administration notes that most of these fatalities are instances of trespassers being struck by trains
  • In 2013, there were 6 rail passenger deaths and 20 deaths of employees and contractors, reported by the NTSB. Both numbers increased since 2012.  
  • “About every three hours, a person or vehicle is hit by a train,” said an FRA spokesman in a statement to Newsweek.

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