10.30.17

SCHUMER REVEALS: MTA MAY NOT MEET CRITICAL SAFETY DEADLINE TO INSTALL POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL THAT PREVENTS DEADLY RAIL CRASHES; NEW DATA SHOWS DESPITE AUTHORITY HAVING A NEAR DECADE TO FINISH JOB, ONLY 50% IS COMPLETE & NOW DEADLINE IS AROUND CORNER; WITH CLOCK TICKING, SENATOR CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION BECAUSE PTC-INSTALL WILL SAVE LIVES AND CANNOT GET DELAYED, AGAIN…

Latest Info Says LIRR & Metro North Are Behind On Completing PTC Technology Install That Can Stop An Out Of Control Train; Despite Numerous Reassurances Over the Years, MTA Now Says Its Uncertain 2018 Deadline Will Be Met 

In 2015, Railroads Like LIRR & Metro North Were Granted a 3 Year PTC Extension; Senator Says It’s Disconcerting That Metro North & LIRR Are Once Again Behind Schedule in Installing Life-Saving Technology Even Though He Helped Secure Nearly $1 Billion in Fed Money To Make It Happen; NY Passengers Cannot Afford Another Delay 

Schumer To MTA -- LIRR & Metro North: The Clock Is Ticking—Get PTC Back On Track And Meet Deadline 

With the clock ticking and on the heels of a new information suggesting a delay in the implementation of life-saving railroading technology, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)—including the LIRR and Metro-North—must move heaven and earth to get it done in its power to install Positive Train Control (PTC) by the federally-mandated deadline of 2018. Despite nearly a decade of lead time, including a 3 year extension, the MTA recently suggested it may not meet its 2018 timeline for full implementation of PTC technology. According to the most recent figures provided by the MTA, the agency is just 54% of the way through full PTC installation. Schumer today said that this pace of progress just will not do and urged immediate action.

“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,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “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. If an engineer falls asleep or if a train is on a section of the tracks where another train is approaching, PTC would automatically slow down the train in order to prevent a collision. 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.”

PTC is a communications and signaling system that can be used on railroads to prevent collisions caused by excessive speed and human error. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has found dozens of passenger and freight rail accidents over the years could have been prevented through the use of PTC, including the 2015 derailment of an Amtrak in Philadelphia in which eight lives were lost, a 2013 Spuyten Duyvil crash in the Bronx in which four lives were lost, and a 2008 crash in southern California that killed 25 commuters. 

Nearly ten years ago, Congress required all railroad main lines with regularly scheduled commuter rail passenger service as well as Class I railroad main lines handling poisonous-inhalation-hazard materials to fully implement PTC by the end of 2015.  However, many railroad entities, including the MTA, failed to meet that deadline. As a result, under the PTC Enforcement and Implementation Act, Congress extended the deadline to December 31, 2018.

Moreover, in 2015, Schumer helped to secure a low-cost, federal Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for $976.1 million to be used by the MTA and its railroads for PTC implementation. The FRA gives RRIF priority to projects that provide public benefits, including benefits to public safety such as PTC.  The nearly $1 billion in RRIF financing enables the LIRR and Metro-North to swiftly install and implement PTC by the 2018 deadline.

Despite nearly a decade of preparation time, including a 3 year extension, and the nearly $1 billion federal loan, recent reports by the MTA have suggested the MTA is uncertain LIRR and Metro North will meet that deadline. Schumer said that is most concerning in light of numerous conversations in which the MTA suggested it would meet the 2018 deadline. For instance, in February 2017, a LIRR official at the MTA Board’s Capital Program Oversight Committee meeting said: “the project is on target to achieve beneficial use in December 2018 to meet the mandated deadline.”

According to the MTA’s most recent progress report, PTC is just over 50% complete. To view this update, please refer to the MTA Capital Programs Oversight Committee Meeting on Monday (10/23), MTA presented PTC Progress as 54% Complete (combined together LIRR and Metro-North); Page. 89 http://web.mta.info/mta/news/books/pdf/171023_1415_CPOC.pdf



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