Amtrak trains in Northeast Corridor made safer

20 Jan 2016 | Author: | No comments yet »

Amtrak Activates Speed Control System Between NYC And Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Safety technology that can prevent crashes like a deadly passenger train derailment in May has been activated on Amtrak tracks between Philadelphia and New York. NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Calling it an added layer of safety, Amtrak has installed a high-tech crash avoidance system along a stretch of the Northeast Corridor following a deadly rail accident earlier this year.The national passenger railroad over the weekend activated its version of so-called positive train control between the two cities, the last stretch of its tracks on the busy Northeast Corridor to get the system. PTC was activated on the Philadelphia to Washington section a week ago, and the stretch from Boston to New Haven, Connecticut was already operational. Stadtler, executive vice president who oversees operations for Amtrak. “The railroad before this was put in place was already safe.” Known as PTC, the system can take control of a train before it speeds through a curve where trains should slow down, or if the engineer driving it becomes disabled or distracted.

Investigators say the May 12 crash in Philadelphia, which killed eight people and injured about 200, could have been prevented if PTC had been in operation. Philadelphia’s commuter-train system expects to have its PTC system running by the end of January, said Jeffrey Knueppel, general manager of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, or SEPTA. “There’s different circumstances for everybody,” he said. “Everything broke right for us, and we’re just barely [finishing] right around the original mandate.” PTC is the next generation of signal safety equipment designed to reduce the chance of human error and automatically prevent train-to-train collisions and over-speed derailments. PTC uses GPS and other tracking systems to automatically stop trains in danger of derailing because they’re traveling too fast, are about to collide with another train or are about to enter a work area. Amtrak has had the system up and running between New Haven, Conn., and Boston since 2000, a federal requirement when Amtrak rolled out Acela service there as fast as 150 miles an hour; the service runs at a top speed of 125 mph between New York and Washington. Representatives of the New York-area commuter railroads cited a number of delays caused by, among other things, difficulty obtaining radio spectrum and designing and procuring technology that isn’t off the shelf.

The LIRR and Metro-North plan to eventually turn on the system in segments, said a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the railroads. Amtrak’s existing signal system at the curve wasn’t configured to automatically slow speeding trains in the northbound direction, unlike the system on the southbound tracks at the curve. Amtrak has also installed inward-facing video cameras in locomotives on the Northeast Corridor—a feature whose absence has hindered an investigation into the cause of Philadelphia crash.

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