NTSB: No More PTC Delays

The National Transportation Safety Board said any further delays in stalling positive train control systems will continue to put passengers at risk of being involved in accidents caused by human errors.

NTSB members were critical of how federal officials have granted additional time to the railroad industry to install PTC.

“There should be no more extensions on PTC,” NTSB member Jennifer Homendy said at a event in which the board named PTC as one of its 10 most wanted reforms to improve transportation safety.

The list also includes measures designed to eliminate drunk and distracted driving.

Although railroads faced a Dec. 31, 2018, deadline to install PTC, the law also allows railroads to seek a two-year waiver from the Federal Railroad Administration if they met specified criteria for PTC installation as of that date.

Four of the 41 railroads subject to the PTC mandate had fully installed PTC as of the deadline with 34 others seeking or having been granted waivers.

The Association of American Railroads said in January that PTC is fully installed across on all its member railroads and operable on 83 percent of those route miles.

Homendy, though, acknowledged that train travel is “generally” safe.

“It’s one of the safest modes of transportation,” she said. “But the risk of a PTC preventable accident is still there.”

She also conceded that the equipment, radio frequencies and staff training needed to implement in PTC is expensive, “but in our view there’s a greater cost to losing a life.”

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