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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) yesterday announced it would close three key positive train control (PTC) safety recommendations after more than 40 railroads required to implement PTC met the federally mandated deadline of Dec. 31, 2020.
The NTSB's recommendations to CN, CSX and Chicago commuter railroad Metra are related to installing PTC, the safety technology that prevents equipped trains from colliding, missing signals or speeding. The recommendations will be classified as "closed — acceptable action," NTSB officials said in a press release.
PTC has long been a priority for the NTSB, and was listed on the agency's 2019-2020 Most Wanted List of transportation safety improvements.
The NTSB had recommended CSX install a PTC system after a February 1996, collision between Amtrak and a Maryland Rail Commuter passenger trains operating on CSX tracks near Silver Spring, Maryland. Three crew members and eight passengers died in the derailment and subsequent fire.
The recommendation to Metra resulted from an October 2003 overspeed derailment that injured 47. The train was traveling 68 mph in a 10 mph zone.
And the NTSB issued a PTC recommendation to CN after two of its trains collided head-on in Anding, Mississippi, in July 2005. Four crew members were killed and 15,000 gallons of diesel fuel were released from the locomotives, resulting in a fire that burned for 15 hours.
"I've seen up close the devastation and heartbreak a rail catastrophe brings," said NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt. "We will silently mark our success with every train crash prevented, every life saved by this technology."