New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, in the aftermath of the Metro-North Railroad derailment that killed four commuters, said it intends to fully implement so-called positive train control technology that could have prevented Sunday’s deadly crash.
But the MTA, while saying in a statement late Tuesday that it “will make sure the appropriate funding is made to implement PTC on the most aggressive schedule possible,” said doing so by the 2015 deadline will be extremely difficult.
The MTA operates Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road.
“Much of the technology is still under development and is untested and unproven for commuter railroads the size and complexity of Metro-North and LIRR, and all of the radio spectrum necessary to operate PTC has not been made available,” MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said in a statement. “The MTA will continue its efforts to install PTC as quickly as possible, and will continue to make all prudent and necessary investments to keep its network safe.”
Full implementation should cost about $900 million. Donovan said the MTA to date has budgeted nearly $600 million for elements of PTC installation, including a $428 million procurement last month for a system integrator.
According to Donovan said the MTA began work to install positive train control on LIRR and Metro-North in 2009.
Congress the previous year required commuter and freight railroads to install such systems by 2015 with legislation triggered by the 2008 commuter train accident in Chatsworth, Calif., in which 25 people died in a wreck attributed to the train’s engineer ignoring a red signal because he was text messaging.
PTC, a slowdown mechanism, is designed to prevent the kind of accidents that happened on Sunday.
The National Transportation Safety Board ruled that the southbound train headed from Poughkeepsie to Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan was going 82 miles per hour as it approached a 30-mph curve near Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx.