Schumer slams MTA plan to delay train safety system installation by two more years
2018-12-10 | The New York Daily NewsDec. 10 --The MTA wants to wait two more years to install life-saving train technology that could prevent deadly commuter train crashes and derailments, Sen. Chuck Schumer said Sunday.
The Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad have struggled to install positive train control, by a federal deadline of Dec. 31 .
Schumer said the MTA will announce on Monday that it wants two more years to install the system, which investigators found might have prevented the December 2013 Metro-North Spuyten Duyvil derailment that killed four and injured 60.
Such a system also could have kept 100 people from getting hurt when a Far Rockaway -based Long Island Rail Road train crashed as it pulled into the Atlantic Terminal in downtown Brooklyn in January 2017 .
"We know we need safety redundancies across the board .... And we know PTC is one of them -- one of them that works," Schumer said.
MTA spokeswoman Sarah Armaghan claimed the agency has already met all the federal requirements for 2018 but acknowledged a new delay would be sought.
"We expect to complete our systemwide roll-out in advance of the two additional years we've qualified for," she said.
Positive train control systems track train movements by radio. The systems will automatically trigger train brakes if they are moving too fast.
Federal law says passenger railroads must have positive train control installed by Dec. 31 . If they don't have the systems installed, they must have a plan for installing them.
LIRR and Metro-North have installed all the necessary hardware on their trains, the feds report. But as of Sept. 30 , they hadn't finished installing the necessary equipment along the tracks.
In the Spuyten Duyvil crash -- in which the train operator said he fell asleep -- a Metro-North train derailed when it went through a curve at 82 mph. A positive train control system might have automatically triggered the train's brakes.
Amtrak and NJ Transit are further behind in installing positive train control, the feds say. Federal probers said positive train control might have prevented a May 2015 Amtrak crash near Philadelphia that killed eight people and injured 180.
Schumer said the MTA has no excuse to delay installing the system.
"The technology is available and the money has been secured via a billion dollar federal loan I supported," Schumer said. "So, there's simply no reason for the MTA to once again move the goal post."
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