Life-saving track technology only in half of Connecticut


OLD SAYBROOK, Conn. (WTNH) — There is life-saving track technology that most believe would have avoided the derailment in Philadelphia and others.

Passengers traveling the rails in eastern Connecticut are actually safer than almost everywhere else in the Northeast corridor. That’s because the longest section of track with the most modern technology, the 156-mile section of track from New Haven to Boston, is equipped with Positive Train Control, or PTC. PTC links the track and the locomotive to GPS and automatically slows down the train if it’s going too fast.

It’s becoming clear to everyone that PTC would have likely avoided this week’s crash in Philadelphia and the Metro-North crash in the Bronx in December of 2013. Excessive speed was an obvious factor in both.

“The fact that this has happened twice in the same area because of the lack of this technology, I think this should be remedied pretty quickly,” said Max Rakaseder while waiting at the Old Saybrook train station for the 1:12 p.m. Amtrak train to Boston.  

“I’m glad it’s on this section I travel all the time; however, my children travel the other section and I think it should be everywhere,” said Jacqueline Michael of Haddam, waiting for the same train.

Seven years ago, Congress voted to require PTC on all passenger lines by the end of this year. One estimate places the cost at $14 billion and close to a billion a year for maintenance. Because it’s obvious the deadline will not be met, a Congressional Committee is currently drafting an extension that could be as long as another seven years.

Connecticut Senator Dick Blumenthal and New York Senator Chuck Shumer, both longtime advocates of this technology, are planning to call for faster investment in PTC during an event at Penn Station Friday.

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