NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer called on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to “move heaven and earth” to install Positive Train Control on the Long Island Rail Road and the Metro-North Railroad, with the goal of preventing accidents.
“The clock is ticking on PTC and the deadline for full installation is fast approaching, which is why it is shocking to know that the MTA could be in a position for yet another delay on this life-saving, crash-preventing technology,” Schumer said in a news release. “The technology is available and the money has been secured via a billion dollar federal loan I supported, so there’s simply no reason for the MTA to once again miss the upcoming Positive Train Control implementation deadline mandated by Congress.”
Schumer said Positive Train Control would automatically slow down a train if an engineer falls asleep at the controls, or if the train is on a section of tracks where another train is approaching.
“Once fully implemented, PTC will help prevent fatal crashes, on passenger and freight trains, so it’s of the utmost importance that MTA and LIRR and Metro North get back on track and quickly install this life-saving technology by the end of next year,” Schumer said in the release.
Schumer’s office said despite a decade of preparation time – including a three-year extension – along with a nearly $1 billion federal loan – recent reports have indicated that the MTA is uncertain whether the Metro-North and the LIRR will meet the deadline of Dec. 31, 2018, to install Positive Train Control.
In response to Schumer’s comments, the MTA said it was “moving aggressively to install Positive Train Control on our railroads.”
The agency also noted that it had already implemented numerous safety systems, including automatic train speed enforcement at curves and movable bridges.
The MTA also noted that it has launched a best-in-nation sleep apnea testing program.
The Metro-North and the LIRR started requiring sleep apnea testing after finding the engineer in a 2013 Metro-North crash had fallen asleep at the controls because he had a severe, undiagnosed case of sleep apnea. The engineer, William Rockefeller, told investigators he felt strangely “dazed” right before the crash, which occurred as he sped through a 30 mph curve at 82 mph.