NJ Transit to Test Positive Train Control (PTC) Safety Device

Photo of scalesNew Jersey Transit recently received approval to begin testing positive train control (PTC) on one of its train lines. PTC is a system that automatically slows or stops trains to prevent them from speeding or running past stop signals. It is designed to stop train-to-train collisions, derailments, train movements through misaligned switches and unauthorized train entry into work zones. It does this through the use of GPS, wireless radio and computers. NJ Transit is required to implement PTC by the end of 2018, though whether it will meet the deadline is unknown.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), PTC could have prevented several fatal train accidents, including a Metro-North derailment in 2013 and an Amtrak derailment in 2015. The organization is still investigating whether PTC could have prevented the devastating Hoboken train crash in September 2016, which killed one person and injured 114.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, PTC is the single most important rail safety development in more than a century. The NTSB has been pushing adoption of PTC since 2008.

The federal government gave railroads a deadline of the end of 2015 to have PTC installed, but the impossibility of such a task led to a three-year extension. So far, Amtrak, Metro-North and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s PATH rail system are on track to meet the 2018 deadline. NJ Transit is struggling to meet the deadline and one federal inspector recommended the agency be fined for not meeting its own milestones for implementing PTC.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Train Accidents?

New Jersey has a history of train accidents spanning all the way back to 1833. These accidents can be catastrophic and cause serious injuries and even death. The most common causes of train accidents are:

  • Human error, including failure to brake safely, traveling at unsafe speeds, operation of a train while under the influence or distracted and failure to use or comply with signals
  • Track defects, including debris or obstacles on the tracks, broken tracks and failure to maintain tracks
  • Equipment defects, such as broken signals, objects protruding from trains or failures in brakes, wheels, engines, etc.

If you have suffered injury in a train accident, our law firm can help.

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