Technology for preventing train accidents implemented slowly
The passenger train can be an extremely viable transportation option for those who wish to travel at a rapid rate while still being able to enjoy the scenery. When all systems are running correctly, trains are also a relatively safe means of getting from here to there.
But, on occasion, a train may derail when hitting a curve while traveling too fast. At other times, two trains may collide because they are moving in opposite directions on the same track. Such catastrophes can result in passengers incurring serious injuries, or even being killed.
A system called Positive Train Control could perhaps help lessen the likelihood of collisions and derailments. Essentially, PTC is a digital network designed to let locomotives and control centers communicate so as to monitor and regulate the movement of trains.
PTC is a system that is capable of making trains slow down, or even come to a complete halt. Such capabilities can be executed on trains that are missing stops, traveling too rapidly or entering occupied work areas.
The National Transportation Safety Board first issued recommendations for the implementation of PTC in 1969. It continued to make such recommendations over the next few decades.
Congress finally acted in 2008, ordering that PTC be implemented on passenger routes as well as routes in which certain kinds of materials deemed as dangerous are being transported. The deadline for the required PTC installation is at the end of 2015, but that deadline is expected to be met by only a few railroads and may end up being pushed back.
Hopefully, the nationwide implementation of PTC will eventually become an inevitability, but at present, it is a work in progress. As it stands, those who choose to ride passenger trains that do not have PTC must hope that the systems that are in place will suffice to keep them safe.
If you or a loved one are ever involved in train collision or derailment in California, you should consider talking with an accident attorney about whether any means are available for possibly gaining compensation for injuries sustained.