Positive Train Control Deadline: Rail Systems Go 4 for 41

A decade after Congress set a deadline for rail systems to implement positive train control, only 4 rail systems were able to get the job done on time.

1 minute read

January 2, 2019, 12:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Amtrak Acela

jpmueller99 / Flickr

"Only four of the nation's 41 rail systems required to implement lifesaving technology to prevent train accidents met Monday's deadline," reports Gregory Wallace. "The others -- including Amtrak -- have either applied for or been granted extensions of the deadline."

The lifesaving technology, called positive train control, is part of the conversation almost every time a collision or a derailment incurs loss of life or property, most recently after an Amtrak derailment in South Carolina in February 2018, and only a few months prior in Washington State.

Wallace cites National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt as an expert source in the article. In Hiatt's paraphrased opinion, "Congress, railroads and federal regulators share the blame for the missed deadline." 

"In 2008 [via the Rail Safety Improvement Act], Congress set a 2015 deadline for implementing the technology, then extended it until 2018 and required federal regulators to approve extensions until 2020 for railroads that demonstrate progress toward implementing positive train control," adds Wallace.

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