12/22/2017 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 01/02/2018 10:15
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined a group of 13 Senate Democrats to call on Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao to hold railroads accountable for failing to implement sufficient safety measures. The Senators have requested a status report on railroads' implementation of positive train control (PTC), a lifesaving technology required by Congressional mandate to be fully implemented by 2018. The Senators' letter comes four days after an Amtrak train derailed in DuPont, Washington, killing three and injuring dozens more. The Washington tragedy is the latest in a troubling trend of fatal train derailments and collisions. In just the last four years, three deadly train accidents have occurred in the Northeast corridor that might have been prevented if PTC enforced.
Schumer and Gillibrand were joined by U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).
'Since NTSB first recommended PTC, more than 300 people have died, thousands have been injured, and millions of dollars in property damages have been incurred,' wrote the Senators. 'The PTC deadline is now almost one year away - December 31, 2018. It is imperative that railroads complete implementation before the deadline. They must clearly understand that the consequences of failure will be stringent and prompt.'
The full text of the Senators' letter to Secretary Chao is available here and below:
Dear Secretary Chao:
On Monday, an Amtrak train derailed onto a busy interstate highway in DuPont, Washington. This tragedy reminds us of the urgent need to improve rail safety, including the nationwide implementation of positive train control (PTC) technology, as mandated by Congress. We write requesting an update on the status of railroads' compliance with the pending deadline for implementation and your efforts to carry out other rail safety measures.
The NTSB has been urging the adoption of PTC technology since 1970, soon after a collision in Darien, Connecticut killed four people. Following the 2008 Chatsworth, California crash that killed 25 people, Congress mandated that railroads implement the technology, which prevents trains from colliding and speeding. For years, however, the implementation of the technology has been delayed. Since NTSB first recommended PTC, more than 300 people have died, thousands have been injured, and millions of dollars in property damages have been incurred.
The PTC deadline is now almost one year away - December 31, 2018. It is imperative that railroads complete implementation before the deadline. They must clearly understand that the consequences of failure will be stringent and prompt. Please provide information on the following questions:
We appreciate your attention to this matter and urgent efforts to ensure railroads implement lifesaving PTC technology.