At a Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure markup meeting last night, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA) introduced an amendment to Congress's multi-year surface transportation bill, H.R. 7, that would have struck sections of the bill that delay the implementation of collision-avoidance positive train control technology (PTC) on U.S. trains. The positive train control requirement was first mandated in the wake of the Metrolink accident in Chatsworth, California that killed 26 people in 2008. The amendment was ultimately rejected, and H.R. 7 passed the committee early this morning with the PTC implementation delays still in place.
"Positive train control can save lives," Napolitano said. "Had positive train control been installed on the trains that collided head-on during the 2008 Chatsworth accident, we would have averted a tragedy that not many people will soon forget. Instead of supporting the positive train control requirements that went into law after that disaster, this bill adds years of delays. An ounce of prevention will save a pound of anguish and sadness later on. I am sorry to see so little value placed on the cost of a life."
· Following the catastrophic Southern California Metrolink accident in 2008 which killed 26 people and injured 135, Congress enacted the bipartisan Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, which required railroads to implement Positive Train Control (PTC) on passenger rail lines and lines carrying dangerous toxic-by-inhalation hazardous materials by Dec. 31st, 2015.
· The transportation bill H.R. 7 extends the deadline for implementation of PTC on passenger rail lines from December 31, 2015 to December 31, 2020.
· The bill also sets the deadline for PTC on rail lines on which toxic-by-inhalation hazardous materials are transported to "on or after December 21, 2020", effectively eliminating the deadline.
· PTC technology works by using computers to monitor the position and location of different trains and automatically employ breaking and safety measures if a potential collision is detected.