Commuter railroads serving the Big Apple face an uphill climb to meet next year’s deadline for installing anti-crash technology that could have prevented this week’s deadly derailment in Washington state, federal records show.
Less than one-third of all locomotives operated by the MTA and NJ Transit have been outfitted with Positive Train Control systems mandated in 2008, according to data compiled by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).
Metro-North — where in 2013 four riders were killed when a speeding train jumped the tracks in The Bronx — has installed automatic-braking devices in just 27 percent of its 531 engines and doesn’t have a single segment of track fully equipped with transmitters to activate them.
The Long Island Rail Road — where more than 100 passengers were injured this past Jan. 4 when a train smashed into a bumper block at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal — has 49 percent of its 580 locomotives equipped with PTC, and just one of its 15 major track sections.
The slow pace of the upgrades comes despite a low-cost, $967 million loan from the FRA more than two years ago to pay for the work.
NJ Transit, which is spending $320 million on PTC, has outfitted less than 6 percent of its 440 locomotives and none of its tracks.
PTC is a GPS-based system that uses on-board electronics and transmissions from track-side signals and radio towers to automatically apply brakes if speeding trains are in danger of derailing or crashing.
Congress ordered PTC installation on major US rail lines following a 2008 Los Angeles train collision that killed 25 people, but federal lawmakers provided no funding, leaving railroads and their riders to foot the bill.
Railroads were initially given until Dec. 31, 2015, but two months before the deadline it was extended for at least three years.
Amtrak has admitted that the system wasn’t activated on the speeding Washington state train that plunged off an overpass onto a busy interstate during an inaugural, high-speed run from Seattle to Portland Monday, killing three people and injuring more than 100.
Retired NYPD cop Eddie Russell, who survived the 2013 Bronx derailment, was outraged that Metro-North still isn’t using PTC on all trains.
“I don’t think they’re concerned about the commuters, they are worried about money,” said Russell, who has a pending $10 million suit over his injuries.
MTA board member Mitchell Pally blamed the delay on the limited number of companies manufacturing “this very complicated equipment,” which has to be custom-built for each railroad.
MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said the agency was “moving heaven and earth to make the Positive Train Control deadline by the end of 2018.”
Poor MTA Chairman Joe Lhota is literally poor! NO MONEY