New Jersey Transit has some 80 fatalities, in the last decade. This is reportedly worse than Metrolink in Los Angeles. The utilization of automatic train controls by the N.J. Transit may be necessary to ensure the safety of commuters.
The Los Angeles Metrolink driver, who died in the accident, on September 12, 2008, ran through three yellow and red signals warning of an approaching train. It is also reported he overrode a switch diverting one of the trains. The additional reports claiming the train operator was text messaging, just before the crash, are also being investigated.
Providing automatic train controls, to resume operation of the train, when a driver fails to notice a warning signal or exceeds a speed limit, is not a giant leap. The airline industry has been utilizing collision-warning and prevention systems since the mid-1980s.
Positive Train Control (PTC) is a technology endorsed by The National Safety Board which would provide this control measure on New Jersey railways. In basic terms, PTC can be implemented with equipment in the cab, a control center, and a wireless link between the two. This technology is reportedly used on only 4,000 miles of the 140,000 miles of railroad tracks across the country.
New Jersey Transit is installing a PTC system on some of its commuter lines. Amtrak seems to be implementing this technology. They have upgraded trains on the Northeast Corridor between Washington, DC, and Boston. Union Pacific has done likewise on a stretch of A track between Chicago and St Louis has been upgraded by Union Pacific.
In comparison to Metrolink, New Jersey’s trains cover four times the miles and carry five times the passengers annually than trains in Los Angeles. Are the railway systems in New Jersey going to wait until the modern technology of cell phone use causes deaths before implementing the appropriate safety measures with Positive Train Control.
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