The initial paragraph in many train safety-related stories commences with Chatsworth, the California town where a tremendous collision between two trains in 2008 took the lives of 25 people.
We follow that lead in this post, given one immediately galvanizing and important effect that resulted from the catastrophe. Namely, that was sharp scrutiny in the U.S. Congress that ultimately led to legislation being passed that requires both freight and passenger trains to implement sophisticated crash-avoidance technology.
Not everyone is yet on board with that dictate.
The deadline for the nation’s railways to inform the federal government of their status regarding conformity with the requirements passed recently, and the slew of incoming reports from freight and passenger companies across the country reveal a mixed bag as to their performance.
To wit: Some carriers state that they will be fully functional by the technology-ready deadline of December 31, 2018, with others reporting that they’re going to need waivers allowing for more time.
Federal regulators aren’t too happy with the latter group, especially since the first and subsequently extended readiness deadline was actually the last day of the year in 2015.
Sarah Feinberg, head of the Federal Railroad Administration, says that her agency is “concerned” that not all railroads will be fully equipped with so-called “positive train control” technology entering into 2019. PTC, which has been lauded in many quarters, uses a variety of interacting technologies to monitor train locations and help them take actions — such as braking or stopping quickly — to avoid derailments, collisions and other adverse outcomes.
Reportedly, many billions of dollars will be spent to get all the country’s railroad companies to full-compliance mode.