Rail Safety is Possible When Politics Get Out of the Way

The Rail Safety Improvement Act is poised to help prevent train wrecks and implement Positive Train Control (PTC) systems that automatically turn on the brakes when a train is about to derail or collide. But if certain House of Representatives have their way, the deadline for implementing these systems will get pushed from 2015 to 2020. Some say this delay is not about economics. As Moody’s Investors Service reports, railroad companies have $60 billion in yearly revenue and several billion in cash. Overall, the PTC system, which would get installed for freight and passenger trains, only costs $13 billion.

The act would cover approximately 70,000 miles of railroad track nationwide. The National Transportation Safety Board has promoted this technology for more than 20 years, as it notes that most accidents are a result of human error. Passengers are due a safe ride and communities that surround the tracks deserve to be free of accidents that can unleash hazardous materials into their neighborhoods. NTSB investigators say that 21 train wrecks could have been avoided since 2001 if PTC had been installed, thus preventing 53 deaths and 1,000 injuries.

A PTC system monitors a train via GPS, wireless technology, and central control centers. PTC can stop a train if it enters the wrong track or is about to go through a red light. Connecticut has 634 rail crossings and since 2000, 70 people have died in rail accidents, reports the Greenwich Times. The five most dangerous crossings in the state are: Crescent Street in Stamford, Flatbush Avenue in West Hartford, Bridge Street in Windsor Locks, Commerce Street in Norwalk, and Division Street in Ansonia.

The rail corridor from New Haven to Springfield is currently being upgraded, and 38 crossings will either be enhanced or closed, according to the Greenwich Times. The upgrades also will allow double the amount of trains to be on current lines, such as through Meriden and Wallingford, and drastically increase speeds from 38 miles per hour to 110 in certain areas. In Connecticut, as in many other states with active train riding and transportation modes, tracks go over private driveways, busy urban streets, office areas, factories, and recreational areas. The chances for catastrophic injuries increase as speeds go higher, PTC is not installed, and the general public is left vulnerable.

A personal injury attorney can help an individual or their loved ones who are dealing with a serious injury or wrongful death due to a railroad accident. Railroad companies are responsible for making sure their tracks, railroad cars, and employees are accountable for their carelessness or negligence. Until PTC is on more tracks, more injuries and deaths will occur because of inaction.

Alexandra Reed writes for Connecticut personal injury law firm, Stratton Faxon. Contact Stratton Faxon to speak with a Connecticut accident lawyer about your personal injury, wrongful death, or Connecticut malpractice case. To learn more, visit Strattonfaxon.com.

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