FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) made a call for increased technology on the nation's rails after reports that an Amtrak train was speeding when it derailed late Tuesday near Philadelphia.
“There are strong indications that the train was traveling far too fast – some reports say as rapidly as 100 mph in a 50 mph zone," Blumenthal said. "If substantiated by a thorough investigation, this fact would argue powerfully for immediate, urgent progress on critical life-saving technology like Positive Train Control (PTC), which prevents trains from speeding. Delaying PTC only leads to preventable and predictable tragedy.”
Seven people were killed when the Amtrak train derailed, and over 200 people were sent to the hospital.
Blumenthal is champion of PTC, introducing legislation that would ensure railroads move swiftly to install the technology, as well as require greater transparency by railroads about the status of implementation efforts.
PTC technology is an advanced railroad signaling system that automatically slows or stops a train that is moving at an excessive rate of speed. For decades, the National Transportation Safety Board has urged railroads to adopt this important technology to prevent derailments caused by speeding or human error, such as the tragic Metro-North crash in December 2013 that killed four passengers in New York.
U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-5th District) also call for an investment in the nation's rails.
“Unfortunately, last night’s tragic accident is just the latest in a series of accidents that are unacceptable and symptomatic of the need for comprehensive reinvestment in our infrastructure," Esty said. "We shouldn’t wait until trains derail, bridges collapse, and people die to fund our transportation infrastructure, which people all across America rely on every day. A great nation does not respond to crises with duct tape – we lead with bold action. And the time to act is now.”
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) called for a thorough investigation of the accident.
“There must be thorough investigations into what caused the derailment and how such accidents can be prevented,” said Murphy. “But even before last night it was clear that there’s more we can do as a nation to make rail travel safer and more reliable. Millions of Americans rely on rail to travel up and down the Northeast Corridor each year, and yet Congress refuses to make the investments needed to maintain and expand rail lines and safety features.”
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