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Blumenthal Blasts Lack Of Life-Saving Technology On Metro-North Trains

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal Photo Credit: File

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- Following a recent Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) report that the majority of railroads will miss the Dec. 31, 2015 deadline to implement Positive Train Control technology, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) wrote to the FRA and Metro-North Railroad.

In a letter to FRA Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg, Blumenthal stated that the FRA must hold railroads accountable for the failure to meet this deadline – which was established in 2008 – to adopt critical, life-saving, Positive Train Control (PTC) technology and requested a detailed plan and explanation on how the agency plans to do so.

“Railroads need to be held accountable for their deliberate or negligent failure to comply with an existing legal deadline,” Blumenthal wrote to Feinberg.

“More than just rhetoric, the FRA must demonstrate that willful or even negligent failure to set deadlines and meet them will have meaningful consequences. Railroads must have clear incentive to implement PTC by the Dec. 31 deadline – which remains current law, despite ongoing debate in Congress. The disciplinary regimen must be real and realistic with a penalty approach that recognizes good faith efforts and punishes intentional violations…They should be more than in effect the cost of doing business for railroads, allowing continued delay, death and injury.”

Metro-North Railroad, which serves thousands of Connecticut commuters every day, is only expected to being testing PTC in 2016, at the earliest, and not complete installation until after 2018, according to the report.

In his letter to Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti, Blumenthal demanded “a date certain by which Metro-North will complete full and final implementation of PTC."

“PTC is a critical life-saving technology that could have prevented the deaths of hundreds – including the four who tragically died in the Bronx in December 2013 – since the National Transportation Safety Board first recommended its installation over 45 years ago."

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