May 21, 2015

Warner, Kaine Call For Increased Funding For Positive Train Control Technology That Could Prevent Future Derailments

According to NTSB Positive Train Control Could Have Prevented Derailment of Amtrak 188

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine joined 21 of their Senate colleagues in urging Congress to increase funding for Positive Train Control (PTC). According to the National Safety Transportation Board, PTC technology could have prevented the derailment of Amtrak 188 in Philadelphia last week. 

Currently the nation’s rails need approximately $2 billion to fully implement positive train control but Congress has only allocated $50 million to date.

In a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Senators wrote, “Safety on our nation’s railway system has been, and must continue to be, our top priority. Last week’s accident is a stark reminder that there have been far too many crashes and derailments, which could have been prevented had Positive Train Control been installed. As we continue to rely more and more on our passenger and freight rail networks, it is imperative that we install Positive Train Control nationwide as soon as possible. 

In addition to Sens. Warner and Kaine, the letter was also signed by:  Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Chris Coons (D-DE), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Angus King (I-ME), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Gary Peters (D-MI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tom Carper (D-DE), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

The full text of the letter can be found below:

May 20, 2015

The Honorable Susan Collins 

Chairman

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee

Dirksen SOB 128        

Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Jack Reed

Ranking Member

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee

Dirksen SOB 142

Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairman Collins and Ranking Member Reed:

As you continue work on the FY16 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill, we urge you to provide increased and expedited funding for rail safety, especially Positive Train Control (PTC) technology.

On Tuesday, May 12th, an Amtrak train traveling from Washington, D.C. to New York derailed outside Philadelphia. Tragically, eight lives were lost and more than 200 people were injured. While the investigation into that accident is still ongoing, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reported that the derailment could have been prevented had PTC been operational on that segment of track. The NTSB has advocated for PTC for more than four decades, citing its life-saving potential. PTC would provide millions of dollars in annual safety benefits and prevent needless fatalities.

Increased funding for PTC is especially critical at a time when commuter agencies grapple with the huge investments needed to install this technology. To date, Congress has only allocated $50 million specifically for PTC, yet costs on commuter rail systems nationwide are expected to exceed $2 billion.  

Safety on our nation’s railway system has been, and must continue to be, our top priority. Last week’s accident is a stark reminder that there have been far too many crashes and derailments, which could have been prevented had Positive Train Control been installed. As we continue to rely more and more on our passenger and freight rail networks, it is imperative that we install Positive Train Control nationwide as soon as possible. Many of us have called for increased funding for PTC previously, and with renewed urgency we reiterate our request in this year’s funding bill.

Thank you for the work you have done to fund passenger rail and your prompt attention to this very important matter. We look forward to working with you.

Sincerely,

 

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