Recently, the Federal Railroad Administration and Secretary of Transportation announced proposed rules aimed at preventing catastrophic train and railroad crashes. The new rules mandate trains and railroads to use Positive Train Control (PTC), designed to prevent train-to-train collisions. This implementation of new technology is one effort to reduce the number of people injured or killed in a train crash.
Positive Train Control is essentially like “auto pilot” in the event the train operator fails to take appropriate action: PTC automatically contols the speed and movement of trains under certain conditions. For instance, if the train conductor does not manually slow the train down as it approaces a red stop signal, the Positive Train Control can automatically force the train to stop, which may prevent a potential train crash involving a vehicle or pedestrian killed at a railroad crossing. PTC also engages in speed control to prevent train derailments caused by driving too fast, as well as preventing unauthorized entry by trains into work zones.
The new rules do not require that all trains install PTC technology immediately. Instead, major freight railroads and intercity and commuter rail operators must submit their plans for Positive Train Control to the Federal Railroad Administration for approval by April 2010. Freight railroads and commuter trains are then given 5 additional years to install PTC systems, which must be fully installed by 2015. The Federal Railroad Administration is working with the Federal Communications Commission to enable adequate radio frequency for the PTC technology to function properly.
This implementation of new technology on our nation’s railroads and commuter trains is an important public safety step designed to reduce the number of large train collision or railroad accident deaths. To speak with a top train accident lawyer based in Chicago, call Passen & Powell at (312) 527-4500 for a free consultation.