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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Sen. Blumenthal urges Metro-North to set firm deadline for PTC implementation


U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) yesterday demanded MTA Metro-North Railroad to provide a deadline for implementation of positive train control (PTC).

In a letter to Metro-North's President Joseph Giulietti, Blumenthal called the delays in installing the technology "deeply disturbing," and noted that "no firm deadline" exists for implementing PTC at Metro-North.

"Riders and consumers deserve to know a date certain for PTC implementation," he wrote. "The public needs full assurance of a deadline for Metro-North fulfilling its obligation to protect the lives of passengers and workers on their behalf."

In a report issued late last week, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) identified the New York City commuter line as one of the many railroads that would not meet the Congressionally-mandated PTC deadline of Dec. 31, 2015.

Both Metro-North and MTA Long Island Rail Road have made "significant interim investments pursuant to recommendations from the FRA and [the National Transportation Safety Board] to ensure the safety of their respective systems,” an MTA spokesman said in a statement reported by the New Haven Register.

"Forcing fines on the MTA and other railroads that have worked closely with the FRA to establish safe implementation timelines distracts from our joint goal of installing PTC expeditiously," the agency's spokesman said.

Meanwhile, Blumenthal penned a separate letter to FRA Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg demanding that her agency hold railroads accountable "for their deliberate or negligent failure to comply with an existing legal deadline."

"More than just rhetoric, the FRA must demonstrate that willful or even negligent failure to set deadlines and meet them will have meaningful consequences. Railroads must have clear incentive to implement PTC by the Dec. 31 deadline – which remains current law, despite ongoing debate in Congress."

Blumenthal went on to say that the FRA should levy "stiff and severe" penalties on railroads that fail to install PTC by the deadline.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/13/2015