Washington, DC- 23 U.S. Senators, led by U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), announced that they have sent a letter to the Appropriations Committee calling on 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 that derailed 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. The letter is signed by: Senators Nelson (D-FL), Coons (D-DE), Blumenthal (D-CT), Kaine (D-VA), Markey (D-MA), Durbin (D-IL), King (I-ME), McCaskill (D-MO), Boxer (D-CA), Booker (D-NJ), Menendez (D-NJ), Schumer (D-NY), Peters (D-MI), Stabenow (D-MI), Gillibrand (D-NY), Carper (D-DE), Cardin (D-MD), Warner (D-VA), Klobuchar (D-MN), Feinstein (D-CA) and Whitehouse (D-RI).
The Senators wrote, “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.”
The full text of the Senators’ letter can be seen below:
Dear Chairman Collins and Senator 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. Increased funding in this year’s funding bill would enable us to move towards that goal.
Thank you for the work you have done to fund passenger your prompt attention to this very important matter, and we look forward to working with you.