Railroad Investigator: Positive Train Control System Could Have Prevented Amtrak Derailment
Railroad investigator John Hiatt said Tuesday that Positive Train Control (PTC), a system designed to automatically stop a train before an accident occurs, could have prevented the Amtrak train derailment in Washington state.
At least three people were killed and dozens injured when an Amtrak train carrying more than 80 people derailed outside of Tacoma, causing several train cars to tumble from a highway overpass to the road below.
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) officials said the train was traveling at approximately 80 mph through a curve with a speed limit of 30 mph. They said they did not know why the train was traveling so fast.
On "Happening Now," Hiatt said this tragedy could have been prevented with the proper technology and equipment.
"Put some Positive Train Control in there for a safety net, and we wouldn't be sitting here having this conversation," Hiatt said, explaining that it serves as a back-up in case there is human error in operating the train.
The PTC system uses GPS tracking to monitor train locations, activate brakes if a train exceeds a speed limit, and ensure no collision with other trains.
In 2008, Congress legislated a deadline for rail companies and agencies to install PTC by the end of 2015, but implementation has been slowed by the high price tag.
As of year-end 2016, the technology was activated on just 16 percent of tracks for freight railroads and just 24 percent of tracks for passenger railroads, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.
Hiatt said that the NTSB has been begging the railroad industry to implement PTC for years, and every time they get close, Congress pushes the deadline back.
"There's just really no excuse," Hiatt said. "I hope these guys take a look at this and realize that this is partially their fault, if not mostly their fault. You can't keep giving people extensions."
Watch more above.