Just Months After Amtrak 188 Derailment, Major Transportation Bill Would Delay PTC Safety Technology- Casey to File Amendment to Remove Delay Provision

According to NTSB, Positive Train Control Could Have Prevented 188 Derailment / Casey Amendment Will Strip Out Delay Provision, Fund PTC Implementation at $500m / In May Casey Led 23 Senators in Push to Increase Funding for PTC

Just Months After Amtrak 188 Derailment, Major Transportation Bill  Would Delay PTC Safety Technology- Casey to File Amendment to Remove Delay Provision

Washington DC- Just months after the Amtrak 188 derailment, a major transportation bill now on the Senate floor would delay implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC)- the vital safety technology that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said could have prevented the Amtrak 188 derailment. Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced that he will file an amendment to remove the delay provision and fund implementation of PTC at $500 million. In May, Casey led 23 Senators in a push to increase funding for PTC implementation.

“It’s this simple- delaying PTC implementation is a really bad idea,” Senator Casey said. “PTC is a vital safety technology that could have saved lives during the Amtrak 188 derailment. Making sure that all of our nation’s railways implement PTC shouldn’t be delayed, not by one day. The stakes are too high.”

The full text of the Casey-led letter from May is 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.