Metra, one of the largest commuter railroad operators in Illinois, is trying to delay installation of safety technology intended to slow or stop trains automatically to prevent a serious train derailment or collision. The technology — known as positive train control (PTC) — serves as a “fail-safe” mechanism to override the train operator or engineer and stop a speeding train before it hurtles off the tracks or crashes into another train.
Railroad “fail-safe” technology uses GPS technology to communicate and signal equipment in such a way that a train is automatically slowed or stopped when a derailment or collision with another train is imminent
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which investigates all serious accidents and injuries involving commuter trains, has found that many of the deadliest train derailments and collisions are caused by human error — engineers who are not paying attention, and fail to heed signals warning them to slow or stop their trains. Case in point: the 2008 Metrolink head-on collision with a Union Pacific train in California — resulting in 25 deaths and more than 100 injuries — was caused by a careless engineer who was texting at the time and failed to stop the train.
The NTSB found that since 2004, “fail-safe” technology could have prevented 22 train accidents causing 57 deaths and more than 1,000 injuries.
In 2008, Congress passed the Railroad Safety Improvement Act, which requires commuter railroads to install PTC by the end of 2015. Other major commuter railroad operators — including Amtrak and Metrolink — plan to implement PTC by the 2015 deadline.
However, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, Metra is doing everything in its power to delay installing — and paying for — this safety technology. Metra is lobbying Congress for a 3-year extension to install PTC so that it can focus its resources on areas other than safety.
As a law firm representing families of those killed in preventable train derailments and railroad accidents, we believe that safety of the commuting members of the public should be of paramount importance to railroad companies. Metra, as well as the other railroads, should invest whatever resources are necessary to implement PTC and other technologies designed to eliminate preventable train accidents.
For a Free Consultation with one of our top-rated Illinois train injury lawyers, call Passen & Powell at 312-527-4500.