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Blumenthal, Schumer, Murphy, Esty Applaud Finalization of $967 Million FRA Loan to Bring Positive Train Control Technology to Metro-North Rail Lines

(Hartford, CT)U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) today applauded news of a final agreement between the Federal Railroad Administration and the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority to provide the MTA with a $967 million federal loan to install Positive Train Control (PTC) technology along the Metro-North and Long Island railroad lines. In February, Blumenthal sent a letter to the FRA urging it to “swiftly and efficiently” move the application forward.

Blumenthal said: “This $967 million loan will finally bring Positive Train Control technology to Metro-North’s rail lines— critical, life-saving technology that has been unconscionably resisted by the railroads for far too long. In February, I urged the FRA to move expeditiously on this application, and I am pleased that the FRA and MTA have come to a final agreement. With funding now in place, I urge the MTA to swiftly install and implement Positive Train Control technology. Such technology would have saved the lives of the four passengers lost at Spuyten Duyvil, as well as dozens of others lost in preventable rail accidents over the past four decades. This agreement underscores how PTC implementation is an achievable, feasible task – both in our region and nationwide. I will continue to work with my Senate colleagues to advance legislation that would require railroads nationwide to adopt this urgently-needed technology before additional lives are needlessly lost. PTC will save lives, prevent injuries and avoid millions of dollars in equipment losses and scheduling delays and should be implemented nationwide immediately.

Schumer said: “The official finalization of this $967 million loan by the FRA and OMB means we are on the right track to implementing life-saving positive train control technology along the LIRR and Metro North. This is a major and much-needed investment in railroad passenger safety, which will help prevent future rail tragedies like the fatal Metro North crash at Spuyten Duyvil.”

Murphy said: “We’ve seen a series of devastating fatal accidents along Metro-North recently that could have been prevented by technologies like positive train control. This $967 million loan will help make this life-saving technology a reality. I applaud the Federal Railroad Administration for providing this much-needed investment, and I urge MTA to immediately begin implementing it on all Metro-North trains.”

Esty said: “Put simply, Positive Train Control will help ensure commuters and their families have safe, reliable, and efficient train service. I applaud Governor Dannel P. Malloy, Commissioner James P. Redeker, and the Federal Railroad Administration for their work on this deal to finance implementation of Positive Train Control technologies on Metro-North.”

PTC is a communications and signaling system that can be used on railroads to prevent collisions caused by excessive speed and human error. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has found dozens of passenger and freight rail accidents over the years could have been prevented through the use of PTC, including the 2013 Spuyten Duyvil crash in the Bronx in which four lives were lost and a 2008 crash in southern California that killed 25 commuters. 

Blumenthal has been an outspoken advocate for PTC. Last month, Blumenthal and Schumer introduced the Positive Train Control Safety Act to ensure that railroads are moving forward swiftly to install PTC technology, following repeated delays in implementation of this critical technology. The bill also takes important steps to improve rail inspection practices, and enhance safety at grade crossings and work zones following reports of lax inspection and oversight, and numerous fatal and catastrophic accidents. Murphy co-sponsored the bill.