NTSB Train Accidents Investigation Calls Out Benefits of PTC Technology
Wednesday, February 07, 2018 | Comments

A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation into two recent train accidents in New Jersey and New York recommended the use of positive train control (PTC) technology to stop future accidents.

The NTSB met Feb. 6 to determine the probable cause for the fatal Sept. 29, 2016, New Jersey Transit commuter rail collision in Hoboken, New Jersey, and the Jan. 4, 2017, Long Island Rail Road collision at the Atlantic Terminal, Brooklyn, New York. The agency is preparing a special investigation report focused on the findings from both accidents that will include recommendations based on those findings.

The commonalities in the accidents – both involving bumping post collisions at the end of a track in a terminal – warrant a singular discussion of the related safety issues, the NTSB said.

In addition to other personnel recommendations, the board recommended the use of technology, such as PTC, in terminal stations and to improve the effectiveness of system safety program plans to improve terminal operations. The NTSB made two recommendations to New Jersey Transit and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the parent company of the Long Island Rail Road, and two to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

“Today’s new recommendations, if acted upon, have the potential to eliminate end-of-track collisions,’’ NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt said. “That translates to protection for passengers on trains and for people standing on terminal platforms.”

There is a Dec 31, 2020, deadline for rail companies to implement PTC. The FRA considers PTC exemptions for yards and terminals. Both New Jersey Transit and Long Island Rail Road requested exemptions. The FRA granted exemptions for the Hoboken and Atlantic terminals, an NTSB presentation said.

“And we’ll discuss, once again, positive train control, or PTC, which can stop a speeding train automatically,” Sumwalt said in remarks. “In both accidents that we discuss today, the track segments were excluded from PTC requirements.”

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