Philadelphia Train Accident Lawyers Discuss Train Safety Technology for the Northeast Corridor

January 18, 2016

After the devastating train derailment this past May, Amtrak recently installed a safety train system called positive train control (PTC) on the portion of the track where the accident occurred. If the system had been installed in 2008, when it was originally mandated, the eight deaths and over 200 injuries could have been prevented.

The PTC technology is a package of communications and equipment upgrades that can monitor the location and the speed of the train in order to prevent collisions and derailments due to excessive speed or faulty switches. It was determined that the Amtrak train that derailed in Philadelphia was travelling at a speed of 106 mph in an area with a 50 mph speed limit. Had the PTC been installed at the time, it would have signaled the engineer and automatically reduced the speed. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, over the past 10 years, PTC could have prevented approximately 65 deaths and 25 train accidents.

PTC was supposed to be installed in most of the passenger and freight railways in 2008, with a completion deadline date of December 31, 2015. The deadline was extended by five years after a deal was struck by poorly run railroads that threatened to delay service or stop it entirely.

Automatic train control (ATC) is another, older technology that also could have prevented the May derailment if it had been installed. It is possible that this technology was not installed because it was assumed that the trains could not reach dangerous speeds coming out of the North Philadelphia station. However, it is highly likely that these calculations were based on much older locomotives and not the 8,600 horsepower “Cities Sprinters” that are known for their powerful acceleration.

Other railroads have been pushing for delays in safety requirements, which is likely due to the fact that PTC has a low investment-to-profit ratio. PTC will increase the safety of the trains, but experts are concerned that it will not allow for faster trains or tighter train spacing. Interestingly, it is the freight railroads that have pushed back against the PCT requirements the most, even though they are significantly more profitable than the passenger system like Amtrak, who has met the deadline on its busiest track.

Philadelphia Train Accident Lawyers at DiTomaso Law Represent Victims of Train Accidents

 If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a train accident, it can be a devastating experience, especially knowing it could have been prevented if the proper technology had been installed. Philadelphia train accident lawyers at DiTomaso Law will fight to ensure that you receive the optimal financial compensation to cover any medical bills, physical therapy and lost wages associated with the accident.

To schedule a confidential consultation, call us at 856-414-0010 or complete our online contact form. We serve clients throughout Philadelphia including Center City Philadelphia and South Jersey in Mount Holly, Burlington County, Camden County and Cherry Hill.