Technology could have prevented fatal Amtrak derailment, according to NTSB report

Positive train control (PTC) technology could have averted December’s fatal Amtrak train derailment in Washington state, according to the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) preliminary investigative report.

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The technology would have notified the engineer about speed reduction for the curve, the NTSB said, and would have applied the brakes if the engineer did not.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation responded to the report.

“Definitive confirmation that PTC would have stopped the train and tragedy in Washington State proves Congress and the administration must steadfastly stick to the fast-approaching implementation deadline,” Blumenthal said. “I await a response from Secretary (Elaine) Chao to the questions my colleagues and I posed to her in December – as well as her assurances that railroads’ failure to meet the deadline will be met with swift and severe penalties.”

Last month, 15 Senate Democrats, including Blumenthal, urged Chao to hold railroads accountable for insufficient safety measures.

Railroads were Congressionally mandated to implement PTC by 2016, but the deadline was extended to the end of this year after railroads demanded an extension.

The NTSB first called for the installation of PTC in 1970, and 67 percent of Amtrak trains have the technology installed.