Thursday, November 15, 2012

NTSB adds PTC to its Most Wanted list

Written by  Luther S. Miller, Senior Consulting Editor

The National Transportation Safety Board's annual "Ten Most Wanted" list of safety improvements is aimed at reducing the 35,000 annual transportation fatalities. While rail-related fatalities are a small fraction of that number, rail safety makes this year's list, released Wednesday, with an entry on Positive Train Control.

PTC is No. 4 on a list also aimed at highway, airport, airline, and pipeline safety, among such general areas as "infrastructure integrity."

The Association of American Railroads was quick to respond with a press release bearing the headline, "2012 on Track to Be Safest on Record for Railroads."

The AAR underscored the railroads' commitment to implement PTC as mandated by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2009 but noted that "significant challenges remain to doing so."

"So far railroads have spent more than $1.5 billion in private capital to try to implement the technology by the 2015 deadline," said the association.

"The FRA and railroads have been working together to find solutions to technical challenges in order to meet the 2015 deadline. However, the FRA railroads, and others have acknowledged that unresolved issues make that date unrealistic," AAR said.

"According to the FRA," AAR added, "the freight rail industry is on pace for the safest year on record. FRA date shows train accidents have declined 15.2% through August 2012 compared with the same period last year while collisions were down 21.6% and derailments are down 13.3% ... The numbered of total employee fatalities declined to 14 from 18 in the January-August period."