Technology Exists to Prevent Train Crashes. But When Will It Get Implemented?

The good news: technology exists which will prevent a large number of serious train crashes. The bad news: implementation of this technology will likely be delayed causing commuter train passengers and others to remain at risk. Below is the background of this important issue.

In September of 2008, a Metrolink commuter train filled with passengers collided with a freight train killing 25 innocent people and injuring more than 100 others. In response to this tragedy, Congress passed the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 which mandated implementation of Positive Train Control for all commuter rail lines and for freight lines hauling hazardous materials. 

So what is Positive Train Control? It is technology which can stop or slow a train before certain types of accidents occur. For example, derailments caused by excessive speed, train-to-train collisions, unauthorized incursions and switching errors can all be prevented by Positive Train Control. Without question, Positive Train Control would have prevented the 2008 Metrolink accident. 

The 2008 legislation gave the railroads until December 31, 2015 to implement Positive Train Control. Despite having seven years to accomplish this task, a recent report from the United States Government Accountability Office reveals only one of the four major freight railroads expects to meet the deadline and most of the seven major commuter railroads do not expect to meet the deadline. As such, the Association of American Railroads has proposed the deadline be extended to 2018. 

Of course, the fact that at least one, and perhaps several other, railroad anticipates meeting the original 2015 deadline begs the question of why the others can not do the same. This is especially true considering Metrolink’s CEO described Positive Train Control as "perhaps the most important safety innovation in our lifetime". 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a train accident, one of our award-winning attorneys would be happy to meet with you a in free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case and review your legal options. Call us anytime at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 or simply fill out this form and we will call you.