Cantwell Calls for Analysis of Gaps in Positive Train Control Implementation

After pushing rail officials to make safety a top priority at a Senate hearing last month, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, sent a letter to the Federal Railroad Administration on the implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) technology for rail safety and what measures FRA requires in areas where Amtrak operates without PTC.

“I am writing to seek more information about how the Federal Railroad Administration (“FRA”) ensures the safety of intercity passenger rail service on over 1,400 miles of track where Positive Train Control (“PTC”) safety technology is not implemented,” Cantwell wrote in her letter to FRA Administrator Ron Batory.

Last month, an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board found that, had PTC been deployed, it could have prevented the fatal 2017 derailment of Amtrak 501 near DuPont, WA.

“While taking the train is generally a safe way to travel, in December 2017 tragedy struck near DuPont, Washington when the Amtrak Cascades 401 derailed and fell onto the highway below, claiming three lives and injuring 65 people. The National Transportation Safety Board found that PTC would have prevented this tragedy,” Cantwell wrote.

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