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Rail News: Communication and Signal

Entire rail industry should commit to PTC implementation, NTSB's Rosenker says

Add another federal transportation official to the growing list of advocates for positive train control (PTC). National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Acting Chairman Mark Rosenker recently cited the safety-improving benefits of PTC during a speech at the International Railroad Safety Conference in Denver.

PTC tops the list of emerging technologies that can provide the biggest safety improvements in coming years, he said, adding that the systems can provide safety redundancy to override human errors and prevent train collisions and over-speed derailments. PTC has been on the NTSB's "Most Wanted List of Safety Improvements" for 18 years and the board has recommended that priorities be established for the installation of PTC in high-risk corridors, such as those where commuter and intercity passenger trains operate, said Rosenker.

"It is time for the entire industry to commit to the development and implementation of positive train-control systems," he said. "The industry must now agree on a format that allows interoperability between systems so that trains can seamlessly move from one railroad to another."

Since 1980, employee fatalities have decreased 82 percent and grade crossing fatalities have dropped 59 percent. But accidents continue to occur, as witnessed by the Metrolink/Union Pacific Railroad collision in Chatsworth, Calif., last month, said Rosekner.

In addition to PTC, Rosenker identified electronically controlled pneumatic brakes; acoustic bearing, wheel impact and truck performance detectors; and intelligent transportation systems as other promising, safety-enhancing technologies.

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More News from 10/8/2008