STANDING AT BREWSTER TRAIN STATION IN PUTNAM COUNTY, SCHUMER WILL REVEAL 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; SENATOR CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION BECAUSE PTC-INSTALL WILL SAVE LIVES AND CANNOT GET DELAYED ANY LONGER
Latest Info Says Metro-North Is 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 Metro-North Were Granted a 3 Year PTC Extension; Senator Says It’s Disconcerting That Metro-North Is 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 Metro-North: The Clock Is Ticking—Get PTC Back On Track And Meet Deadline
Standing at the Brewster Metro-North train station in Putnam County, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today called on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), including Metro-North to move heaven and earth to get Positive Train Control (PTC) installed by the federally-mandated deadline of 2018. Schumer said the clock is ticking and PTC is a piece of life-saving railroad technology that can prevent deadly train crashes and derailments. Schumer reported that 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, and with just about a year left, the agency is just 54 percent of the way through full PTC installation. Schumer said that this pace of progress just will not do and warned against delays and urged immediate action. Schumer explained why this deadline is so critical to meet and the transportation dangers that could ensue if PTC is not installed.
“I am sounding the alarm here in Putnam County, 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 Senator 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 a conductor 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 Metro-North and LIRR 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 which is on Metro-North’s Hudson Line, crash in the Bronx in which four lives were lost.
Schumer added, more than 87 million riders used Metro-North in 2016 and that the Hudson Valley is home to 71 Metro-North stations including 43 in Westchester County, 9 in Dutchess County, 5 in Rockland County, 7 in Orange County and finally 7 in Putnam County.
Additionally, Metro North’s ridership is steadily increasing on lines both the Harlem and Hudson Lines. The Hudson Line runs from New York City, up through the Hudson Valley and into the Capital Region, where it then turns west and proceeds on to Buffalo, NY and beyond. Ridership on the Hudson Line increased from 15,424,638 to 16,603,773 in 2016. Similarly, the Harlem line increased ridership from 27,503,888 in 2015, to 27,720,718 the following year, according to the MTA.
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 Metro-North and LIRR 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.
According to a recent MTA 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 Metro-North and LIRR); Page. 89
Schumer has long been an advocate for PTC and rail safety. In May Schumer announced 33 million in federal funding to install Positive Train Control (PTC) on rain tracks connecting Poughkeepsie to just west of Schenectady. Last year, Schumer brought now former Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg to Schenectady to make a personal case for a federal grant.