POLITICS

176 Miles Of Amtrak Rails Between D.C. And N.Y. Lack Key Safety System

05/14/2015 01:44 pm ET | Updated May 14, 2015

WASHINGTON -- A key safety system is not in service on 176 miles of rail between Washington, D.C., and New York, Amtrak reported Thursday. Experts say this system could have prevented the Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia that killed at least eight people this week.

The technology is called positive train control (PTC) and it slows down trains on curves. For example, if an engineer doesn't comply with the programmed speeds, he or she will get a warning, and if the engineer still doesn't slow down, the system will brake the train.

Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188, which was traveling from Washington, D.C., to New York, derailed Tuesday night after hitting a curve while traveling at more than 100 mph, twice the speed limit. National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt said Wednesday that if positive train control had been installed in that section of the track, "the accident would not have occurred."

That technology is installed and in service on all of the New Haven-Boston leg, and two other segments south of New York, Amtrak reported. Installation is "largely complete south of Newark" but only in service on 50 miles of the 226-mile route between Washington and New York.

Amtrak said it is "on schedule" to have PTC installed in the Northeast Corridor by December 2015.

National implementation of the technology has been subject to delays. In March, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee voted to extend the deadline until at least 2020, Reuters reported.

Have a tip or story idea to share with us? Email us at scoops@huffingtonpost.com. We'll keep your identity private unless you tell us otherwise.

Also on HuffPost:

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Emergency personnel work at the scene of a deadly train derailment, Wednesday, May 13, 2015, in Philadelphia.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Emergency personnel work the scene of a deadly train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia. An Amtrak train headed to New York City derailed and crashed in Philadelphia.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Emergency personnel help a passenger at the scene of a train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A crime scene investigator looks inside a train car after a train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Emergency personnel help a passenger at the scene of a train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Emergency personnel work the scene of a train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Emergency personnel work the scene of a deadly train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Emergency personnel work the scene of a train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Emergency personnel work the scene of a deadly train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Emergency personnel work the scene of a train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia.
  • Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
    Rescue crews and investigators inspect the site of an Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia on May 13, 2015. At least five people have been killed and about 50 others injured Tuesday night when a passenger train derailed in the U.S. city of Philadelphia. The train was heading from Washington to New York when it went off the track in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Philadelphia.
  • Win McNamee via Getty Images
    Investigators and first responders work near the wreckage of an Amtrak passenger train carrying more than 200 passengers from Washington, DC to New York that derailed late last night May 13, 2015 in north Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At least five people were killed and more than 50 others were injured in the crash.
  • Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
    Rescue crews and investigators inspect the site of an Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia on May 13, 2015.
  • Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
    Rescue crews and investigators inspect the site of an Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia on May 13, 2015.
  • JEWEL SAMAD via Getty Images
    Rescuers work around derailed carriages of an Amtrak train in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on May 13, 2015.
  • TIMOTHY A. CLARY via Getty Images
    Passengers injured in an Amtrak train derailment who were bused from to New York from Philadelphia, walk through Penn Station May 13, 2015 in New York.
Suggest a correction
169 Comments

CONVERSATIONS