Poll: Do you think it’s still safe to travel by train?
Technology, and financing technological upgrades, has been at the heart of the American train safety improvements issue. The Hoboken, New Jersey train wreck that took the life of one woman Thursday did not have positive train control, a safety system that combines GPS, wireless radio and computers to monitor trains and stop them from colliding, derailing or speeding.
If a train isn’t being operated in accordance with signals, speed limits or other rules, the system automatically slows or stops it. Positive train control is part of a Congressional directive, which lawmakers voted to require newer technology to be operational by the end of 2015. The deadline, however, was extended to 2018, to avoid a possible shutdown of the nation’s railroads, CNN reported.
New Jersey Transit is publicly funded. It would cost millions of taxpayers dollars to implement technological upgrades.
The National Transportation Safety Board determined the probable cause of Thursday’s crash was “the failure of the engineer to control the speed of the train entering the station.” CNN reported, a contributing factor was “the lack of a positive train control system that would have intervened to stop the train and prevent the collision.”
New Jersey Transit has not installed positive train control. It does have an older safety system. In addition to killing one bystander, the train crash injured 110 people.
The railroad industry has opposed positive train control because of its high costs and technological issues. The National Transportation Safety Board has said that positive train control technology could have prevented numerous railroad accidents involving human error, including:
- Dec. 1, 2013: Metro-North commuter Bronx, New York train derailment. Four people were killed and dozens injured. Engineer fell asleep, and failed to slow the train.
- May 2015: Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia. Eight people killed, and 200 people sent to the hospital. Derailment resulted from loss of situational awareness.
- Since 2004: At least 25 train accident took the 65 lives, injured more than 1,100 people and caused millions of dollars in damages.
Do you think it’s still safe to travel by train?