Sen. Dianne Feinstein: Stick to 2015 deadline for positive train control

Washington – Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has called for lawmakers to keep the Dec. 31, 2015, deadline for installation of a crash avoidance system known as positive train control on passenger rail systems.

In a letter sent Dec. 4 – three days after a deadly Metro-North Railroad passenger train derailment in New York City – Feinstein cited experts from the National Transportation Safety Board who claimed PTC “likely” would have prevented the derailment. The Rail Safety Improvement Act, introduced after a similar deadly crash in California in 2008, established the 2015 deadline for PTC – which also must be installed on certain rail systems transporting hazardous materials.

Feinstein noted in the letter, which was sent to Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, that some railroads have asked lawmakers to delay the PTC implementation date. According to the Government Accountability Office, some PTC components may not be available or installed in time, among other issues.

“PTC will save lives when it is deployed, and every day of delay leaves in place a 19th century signaling system dependent entirely on the attention of each train’s lone engineer,” Feinstein wrote in the letter.