How does positive train control technology work? - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Bronx derailment

How does positive train control technology work?

Posted: Updated:
NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

Investigators say have no doubt speed played a role in Sunday's deadly Metro-North train derailment. The train was traveling 80 mph as it entered a 30-mph zone.

Passengers could do nothing as the cars flipped over and ran off the track. They were at the mercy of its brakes and the engineer.

Joel Zaritsky was riding in the fourth car and knew the train was going too fast around the curve in Spuyten Duyvil.

"Next thing I know I felt the car come off the tracks," he told Good Day New York. "The car started to go to the right and I could see at a very high rate of speed the gravel and the ground coming toward my head."

It is still unclear if the crash was the result of human error or mechanical failure. But rail experts argue the tragedy may have been prevented if Metro-North had automated crash-avoidance technology called positive train control.

A video shows a similar technology being used on the L subway train in New York City. New Jersey Transit is also testing the tech. So how does it work? Before the train leaves the terminal, it downloads what is called a physical characteristics file that has every aspect of the route from curves, to speed limits, and track work changes. With the help of GPS and WiFi, the engineer is notified of any changes. For example, if the train is going too fast, the technology will tell the operator to slow down. If the engineer doesn't respond, the system will automatically apply the brakes.

"The idea is the train would automatically slow in a situation exactly like Sunday," said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y. He serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

In 2008, the Congress passed a law mandating Positive Train Control for commuter and freight railroads. The deadline for installation is 2015.

But just last month, the MTA awarded $428 million in contracts to develop the system for Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road. The agency is asking for an extension on the deadline to 2018, saying installation across the 1,000 rail cars and 1,200 miles of track will take a lot of time and money.

Maloney is introducing new legislation that would provide funding for rail systems to get it up and running faster.

"My legislation does a very simple thing, says this $35 billion pool of low-interest financing will explicitly be made available for implementation of positive train control so that we can save lives," Maloney said.

The Senate passed the bill last year, so Maloney said he knows it has enough support, but the previous Congress failed to get it done.

A spokesperson from the MTA said that more funding to install the system would be helpful. But it is unclear if more money will speed the process along.

Right now the MTA is in the beginning design stages and expects the technology won't be fully operational until 2018.

The MTA's Aaron Donovan, the deputy director for external communications, issued this statement about positive train control: "The MTA began work to install Positive Train Control on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad in 2009. To date, the MTA has budgeted nearly $600 million for elements of PTC installation, including a $428 million procurement last month for a system integrator. Full implementation is estimated to cost $900 million, and the MTA will make sure the appropriate funding is made to implement PTC on the most aggressive schedule possible. However, implementing PTC by the 2015 deadline will be very difficult for the MTA as well as for other commuter railroads, as the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have both concluded. Much of the technology is still under development and is untested and unproven for commuter railroads the size and complexity of Metro-North and LIRR, and all of the radio spectrum necessary to operate PTC has not been made available. The MTA will continue its efforts to install PTC as quickly as possible, and will continue to make all prudent and necessary investments to keep its network safe."

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Temperature drops; snow moves in

    Temperature drops; snow moves in

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 10:59 PM EDT2014-04-16 02:59:53 GMT
    Fox 5 photoFox 5 photo
    The mild weather made an exit in the Tristate region and snow moved in late Tuesday into Wednesday. Scattered showers, heavier rain, thunderstorms, and strong winds were expected. Reports of heavy, wet snow have come in from the Hudson Valley, northern New Jersey and New York City. The snow is not expected to accumulate for very long.
    The mild weather made an exit in the Tristate region and snow moved in late Tuesday into Wednesday. Scattered showers, heavier rain, thunderstorms, and strong winds were expected. Reports of heavy, wet snow have come in from the Hudson Valley, northern New Jersey and New York City. The snow is not expected to accumulate for very long.
  • Robert De Niro says Tribeca Film Festival is his passion

    Robert De Niro says Tribeca Film Festival is his passion

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 10:47 PM EDT2014-04-16 02:47:46 GMT
    Robert De Niro is a family man, a filmmaker, an entrepreneur and one of my favorite actors of all time. He's also a co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, which has more to see than ever before. De Niro wears just as many hats on screen as he does in real life. The father of six starred in six films last year, owns four restaurants and a hotel, and still finds time each spring for the Tribeca Film Festival, Lower Manhattan's annual cinematic showcase.
    Robert De Niro is a family man, a filmmaker, an entrepreneur and one of my favorite actors of all time. He's also a co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, which has more to see than ever before. De Niro wears just as many hats on screen as he does in real life. The father of six starred in six films last year, owns four restaurants and a hotel, and still finds time each spring for the Tribeca Film Festival, Lower Manhattan's annual cinematic showcase.
  • Obama congratulates UConn on NCAA dominance

    Obama congratulates UConn on NCAA dominance

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 9:47 PM EDT2014-04-16 01:47:07 GMT
    President Barack Obama has congratulated the University of Connecticut's men's and women's basketball teams on winning last week's NCAA tournaments. The White House says Obama commended men's head coach Kevin Ollie and his team on their decisive championship victory and noted how he enjoyed watching them throughout the tournament. He told women's head coach Geno Auriemma how impressive it was to see the team continue to dominate women's collegiate basketball.
    President Barack Obama has congratulated the University of Connecticut's men's and women's basketball teams on winning last week's NCAA tournaments. The White House says Obama commended men's head coach Kevin Ollie and his team on their decisive championship victory and noted how he enjoyed watching them throughout the tournament. He told women's head coach Geno Auriemma how impressive it was to see the team continue to dominate women's collegiate basketball.
Powered by WorldNow

KDFW FOX 4
400 N. Griffin Street
Dallas, Texas 75202

Main Station Directory:
(214) 720-4444
News Fax:
(214) 720-3263 or (214) 720-3333

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices