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Responding to recent fatal passenger train crashes and crude-oil train derailments, U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) yesterday announced new legislation that would require railroads to install positive train control (PTC) technology by 2018.The senators said their Positive Train Control Safety Act (S. 1006) also would require railroads to report on their PTC implementation status and require trains carrying crude oil to run on tracks installed with PTC.The bill would extend the federal government's PTC deadline by three years by allowing one-year extensions, on a case-by-case basis, until 2018. The current deadline is Dec. 31. Recently, other legislation has been introduced to extend the deadline by five years.The senators said they believe their legislation is necessary "to ensure railroads are moving forward swiftly" to install the crash-prevention technology. The bill would also improve rail inspection practices, in addition to enhancing safety at grade crossings and work zones in response to reports of lax inspection and oversight and numerous fatal accidents, they said."The Positive Train Control Safety Act will require railroads, including both passenger and freight trains, to implement PTC by 2018 and the legislation makes sure railroads are transparent about their efforts and requires regular status updates on implementation," said Schumer.Also sponsoring the bill are Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).
"This bill will hold railroads' feet to the fire and ensure they're moving forward to install PTC, receiving deadline extensions only on a case-by-case basis and year-by-year, and only if factual evidence shows a valid, credible need for more time," Blumenthal said.