BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Rolling out better rail safety may be picking up speed.
Following last month’s deadly train crash in Washington State, the feds are bringing new pressure on railroads to bring Positive Train Control technology online.
Called PTC for short, it uses a combination of GPS satellites, track sensors and computers in locomotives to slow or stop a train moving at unsafe speeds.
Congress ordered it to go operational in 2015, but according to Baltimore lawyer Marc Rosen, who has represented victims of train crashes, “Congress extended it to 2018” and “the railroads can get extensions again to 2020.”
But after the crash that killed three people near DuPont, Washington Dec. 18, U.S. transportation secretary Elaine Chao is pushing the railroads to act sooner rather than later.
In a letter, she has directed the Federal Railroads Administration to “help create an increased level of urgency… for rolling out this critical rail safety technology.”
So far, Positive Train Control is operation on 45 percent of the nation’s freight rail routes, and just 24 percent of the passenger rail routes. According to Marc Rosen, that slow installation has resulted in “people dying.”
And “people are going to continue dying until they get this fixed,” he said.