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Blumenthal Calls For Metro-North To Install Life-Saving Rail Technology

National Transportation Safety Board inspectors check the scene of a train derailment on the Bridgeport-Fairfield border in 2013.
National Transportation Safety Board inspectors check the scene of a train derailment on the Bridgeport-Fairfield border in 2013. Photo Credit: File

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – After Amtrak installed Positive Train Control from Washington, D.C., to New York City, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal is calling on Metro-North to install the life-saving technology on the rails in Connecticut.

Blumenthal (D-Conn.) urged Metro-North to expedite its installation on the New Haven Line in a statement Thursday.

“With life-saving positive train control technology now in place from DC to New York City, the only section of the Northeast Corridor without this safety enhancement is the track from New York City to New Haven," Blumenthal said.

"Metro-North must redouble its efforts to quickly install PTC on the New Haven Line, putting passenger safety first. Connecticut commuters deserve nothing less."

Amtrak met its original deadline for installing the critical technology, even on the congested tracks on the Northeast Corridor between Washington and New York City.

"It is troubling that the New Haven Line and other major portions of our nation’s rail network remain vulnerable to preventable crashes and collisions," he said. "All railroads should follow Amtrak’s lead and implement PTC now, ahead of the recently extended schedule. And Congress must do its part by providing more funds to assist railroads in installing PTC.‎”

The speed-control and collision-avoidance system was activated last weekend, the final portion of tracks in Amtrak's Northeast Corridor to be furnished with the technology, Amtrak spokesman Craig Schulz told CNN.

The area includes the curve at Philadelphia's Frankford Junction, where a train going 106 mph in the 80 mph zone derailed in May, killing eight people and injuring over 200.

About 57 miles of track between New Rochelle, N.Y., and New Haven do not have the control system, but those tracks are owned by Metro-North, CNN said.

CNN offered this explanation of the system: PTC uses transponders in the tracks to communicate with computers on locomotives. As a train passes over a transponder, it helps the train receive the appropriate information about speed restrictions and routes. The system sends a warning to the engineer if the train is speeding and applies the brakes if the engineer doesn't respond. It also prompts trains to stop if they are mistakenly speeding toward another train.

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