PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As the investigation into Thursday’s train crash continues, many are wondering if the catastrophe in Hoboken could have been prevented through Positive Train Control.
The technology was not installed on New Jersey Transit Rail, the line where the crash occurred.
“We’ve made the progress, but there’s not the sense of urgency that there should be to invest in PTC, which is an advancement that Congress had expectations would be done a lot sooner,” said Senator Corey Booker. “Those expectations weren’t met.”
Despite being mandated back in 2008, Congress extended its deadline for PTC implementation to December of 2018, a deadline NJ Transit says it’s working to achieve, but it’s expensive. The nation’s rails need approximately $2 billion to get things up and running and so far, Congress has allocated only $269 million.
“We have fallen behind the technology and railroads, we have neglected railroads tremendously, especially our passenger railroads,” said Dr. Vukan Vuchic.
He is a public transport expert and former advisor to the Department of Transportation. He says the system is designed to automatically stop a train before certain types of accidents occur.
“If we have signals and the driver drives through red signal intentionally, or mistake any reason, the system will physically or electronically pull the breaks,” Dr. Vuchic explained.
While authorities have not determined whether PTC would have made a difference in Thursday’s crash, if it were active, Dr. Vuchic says a train exceeding the speed limit would have been adjusted, before entering the station.
Dr. Vuchic says Thursday’s crash proves that the extension of the deadline was a mistake. “In my opinion, it should have been shorter and looked more into how to assist the railroads to introduce it.”