Amtrak testing new safety system

- FILE - Amtrak Train at Union Station in New Haven (WTNH)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)–A new rail safety system that could’ve prevented last month’s deadly train derailment in Philadelphia is now officially being tested out. It’s called positive train control, or PTC, and it overrides human error.

This testing could interfere with our signal for some News 8 viewers who still use antennas, as this safety system relies on transmissions between trains and track sensors.

People who ride the train regularly were glad to hear steps to ensure safety are officially underway.
Wanda Garvin of Middletown says lately before boarding the train, “I say a prayer, Lord help me to get there safely. “ You know, I come from New York to New Haven to go to Middletown to see my family and just hearing about the train derailments and what’s going on with the systems.”

Positive Train Control would make railway crossings safer and place cameras facing inward and outward in the engineer cabs. The National Transportation Safety Board says PTC technology would have prevented the horrific crash in Philadelphia last month that killed eight people and injured about 200 others.

Susana Hawken Wilson of Fairfield says, “I think it’s good because there are things that happen and people fall asleep and stuff like that.” Closer to home, that was the case in the Bronx in December 2013. It was ruled that a sleep deprived engineer was speeding when he crashed a Metro North train killing four and injuring 63. The PTC system can automatically bring a train to its stop if exceeding the speed limit.
Hawken Wilson says, “My parents commute to New York everyday so that’s also kind of scary.”

Right now, Amtrak officials tell News 8 PTC is installed and in service on all of the 156 mile New Haven to Boston leg and 2 separate segments south of New York. Its installation is largely complete south of Newark, New Jersey, but the system is only in service on 50 miles of the 226 mile route between Washington and New York.

“We hear a lot that something’s going to change for the better and it doesn’t happen and I’m praying this does,” Garvin said.

Amtrak intends to have positive train control along the Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston. The deadline was supposed to be at the end of this year, but it was recently announced that deadline will not be met.

If you experience any problems with your News 8 signal, you can call Amtrak directly at 215-349-4000.

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