On Wednesday, MTA Metro-North Railroad President Catherine Rinaldi and Long Island Railroad President Phil Eng announced that all trains on both railroads will now operate on the ‘Positive Train Control’ (PTC) which is an advanced commuter rail safety technology mandated by the Federal government.
After a long wait, the completion of the federally mandated technology project has finally made its entrance ahead of the Dec. 31 deadline, which the authority deems, “a remarkable feat given the scope of the project and challenges this year posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The technology, appropriately titled ‘Positive Train Control’, automatically stops trains before they crash or derail. Federal officials mandated the tech’s installation back in 2008. “The completion of PTC marks the end of literally a decade of complex work,” MTA Chairman Pat Foye said at a press conference in Queens.“This technology can help stop accidents before they occur, and keep our customers and employees safe,” Foye said. “It’s a major advance for transit not only here in New York, but across the nation.”
“Ensuring safety for the public and our employees is at the core of everything we do daily. The fact that our team at LIRR delivered PTC, a crucial piece of safety for our customers and fellow employees, during a global pandemic is remarkable, and I couldn’t be prouder of their dedication and commitment to public service,” said LIRR President Phil Eng. “Fulfilling this mandate prior to the deadline is a testament to our workforce, our partners in labor, and our collaborative success. The implementation of PTC adds to a roster of in-house initiatives we’ve employed over the past two years to make sure ours is as safe as possible for all.”
“It’s wonderful news that Positive Train Control has been installed and is in place on Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North,” said Lisa Daglian of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee, the MTA’s in-house advocacy group.
With the new technology, trains can automatically communicate in real-time with central dispatching offices – sharing information on train position, speed, and the actions of the locomotive engineer. If a train is traveling too fast, the system automatically takes control of the train to slow it down while alerting the engineer. The system is designed to reduce the potential for human error to contribute to train-to-train collisions, trains traveling into zones where railroad employees are working on tracks, or derailments caused by a train traveling too fast into a curve or into a misaligned switch.