‘Positive Train Control’ ordered by Congress, but not yet in place

NBC News – A computer-based system designed to prevent train accidents has been stalled by high costs and technological hurdles. It was not being used by the train that derailed Monday in Washington state, killing at least three people.

Federal investigators confirmed late Monday that the Amtrak train was going 80 miles an hour in a section of track designed for 30-mile-an-hour speeds. So-called Positive Train Control (PTC) systems are designed, among other things, to prevent trains from speeding.

It was a head-on crash between a passenger and freight train in Los Angeles in 2008 that moved Congress to mandate PTC systems on all major rail lines. The changes were supposed to be completed by the end of 2015.

But implementation was postponed because of the the huge pricetag — up to $22.5 billion over 20 years — and because of the innumerable complications in coordinating technology between multiple freight and passenger carriers and in mapping millions of data points — including switches and signals.

Read more at NBC News.

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Cargo train
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Drew Jacksich, CC BY-SA 2.0