Sen. Charles Schumer, speaking at the Brewster train station, says the MTA is behind schedule in installing Positive Train Control to automatically stop a speeding train before it crashes, Monday, Nov. 20, 2017.
BREWSTER – U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer called on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to get moving on the rail-safety technology known as positive train control, with the deadline for installation a little more than a year away.
“This is not a money issue. They don’t have to take money away from anything else to install positive train control,” the New York Democrat said at a news conference at the Brewster train station Monday morning. “It’s simply that the MTA is not on the job.”
Positive train control is capable of controlling train speeds and movements that would have, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, prevented the 2013 Spuyten Duyvil derailment, in which four people were killed.
The MTA has until Dec. 31, 2018, to fully implement the system, a deadline Schumer said the agency might not meet despite repeated assurances it would.
According to the Federal Railroad Administration, 74 of Metro-North Railroad’s 531 locomotives have been outfitted with the technology, along with five of 104 towers and 64 percent of its employees trained. The MTA is Metro North’s parent agency
The railroad has said it has run into issues with contractors and has to work with New Jersey Transit for its lines in Rockland and Orange counties.
Schumer said that if the deadline is not met, there could be consequences.
“This is a shot across their bow,” he said. “If they don’t speed things up, we’ll see what action we’ll take, but it’ll be aimed at the MTA, not at its ridership.”
The federal government mandated positive train control after a 2008 rail crash in Los Angeles killed 25 people. An extension until 2018 was approved in 2015, the same year the MTA received a nearly $1 billion federal loan to help with implementation.
The MTA has said much of the work on positive train control has been smaller scale. On Monday, officials said they are working toward that December 2018 goal and “expect to be in compliance with all federal regulations.”
“In the meantime, the MTA has installed automatic speed enforcement at the Spuyten Duyvil curve and other curves throughout Metro-North and the (Long Island Rail Road),” the MTA said in a statement. “Like PTC, this system automatically slows and potentially stops a train in the event that the engineer fails to do so.”
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