Sen. Robach says speed control system is a must to prevent train derailments

(WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y. – The chair of New York’s transportation committee, Senator Joe Robach, is concerned about railroad safety for passengers traveling on Amtrak.

He said the federally required speed control technology called the Positive Train Control, or PTC, is a must to prevent derailments, train-to-train collisions and operator error.

“New York State is a mixed bag,” Robach said. “We have part of the Amtrak corridor done with that feature on it."

That’s from New York to Philadelphia. What we have yet to learn is whether it's activated - an issue similar to what was seen in connection with Monday's fatal train derailment in Washington.

Robach believes Monday’s derailment is an example of why that speed control system needs to be installed by the December 2018 deadline.

“There's also been a billion-dollar loan to try and work exclusively on rail,” Robach said. “Especially commuter rail, to help us make that 2018 goal for the entire length-track in New York."

This has some Amtrak riders at the Rochester train station thinking about speed, when they may not have before.

"I assume they have speed limits, like cars do,” said Ron Wheewright. “But I wonder how they transmit that information to the engineer or to the train to tell it how fast it's supposed to go."

"I wonder if there's any GPS system that would allow you to see how quickly you are traveling. Like on airplanes, sometimes, it tells you the speed you are traveling, and things of that nature," said rail traveler Charlie Eagle.

The Amtrak coming out of Seattle, for the first time, was traveling 50 miles over the speed limit on a turn, derailing killing three and injuring dozens.

RIT freshman Jeffrey Monaco is heading to Westchester County for the holidays. He said he's been a train that he felt was going too fast.

"There's been a couple times, you'll be like, it's going around a turn here, it's going pretty fast,” he said. “I mean, sometimes it's like tipping over."

13WHAM reached out to the Federal Railroad Administration, which has yet to respond to our inquiries regarding speed and the speed control system in our area. A spokesperson tells 13WHAM the agency is backlogged with inquiries and a response could take a while.

13WHAM is awaiting a response from Amtrak as well. We’ll post those answers once we receive them.

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