The National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) investigative findings on May 17, confirmed what we already suspected: that the Amtrak Train 188 derailment would have been avoided had Positive Train Control (PTC) technology been in place. That means if the U.S. had a rational infrastructure investment policy – like every expert and transportation official recommends – the eight passengers killed in the incident would still be alive today, and 125 passengers would have avoided significant pain and injury.
The NTSB determined that the Amtrak engineer’s loss of situational awareness led to the derailment.
An otherwise exemplary employee with no history of impairments, the engineer’s serious error is yet another argument for implementation of this life-saving technology. PTC was designed and exists to guard against such mistakes in human error.
While Amtrak has fully-implemented PTC along the Northeast Corridor, host railroads that Amtrak relies on, along with commuter rail systems across the country, are still operating without this critical safety technology. Congress extended the deadline for PTC installation three years to 2018 – a move we accepted on the condition that Congress provide adequate funding to accelerate installation. So far, Congress has failed to live up to their side of the bargain. The American Public Transit Association has stated there are more than $3 billion in unfunded PTC capital costs. In light of yesterday's findings, it is time for Congress to act.
About the National Association of Railroad Passengers
NARP is the only national organization speaking for the nearly 40 million users of passenger trains and rail transit. We have worked since 1967 to expand the quality and quantity of passenger rail in the U.S. Our mission is to work towards a modern, customer-focused national passenger train network that provides a travel choice Americans want. Our work is supported by more than 28,000 individual members nationwide.