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Blumenthal Statement on $967 Million FRA Loan to Bring Positive Train Control Technology to Metro-North Rail Lines

(Hartford, CT)U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) issued a statement today welcoming news of a possible agreement between the Federal Railroad Administration and the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority that would provide the MTA with a $967 million federal loan to install Positive Train Control 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: “I welcome news that the MTA and FRA appear close to finalizing plans to bring Positive Train Control technology to the Metro-North rail lines — critical, life-saving technology that would have saved the lives of four passengers at Spuyten Duyvil in March 2013, as well as in dozens of other known accidents over the past four decades. In February, I urged the FRA to move expeditiously on this application which is now close to reality. I now urge the FRA and the MTA to swiftly execute this loan, and to immediately install this long-overdue and urgently-needed technology. Whether through this tentative agreement, or through other funding and financing mechanisms, the call for Positive Train Control throughout the Metro-North system must be heeded now.  Positive Train Control can and will save lives—but has been unconscionably resisted by the railroads for far too long. That’s why I have joined with Sen. Schumer to introduce legislation that would hold railroads’ feet to the fire in installing PTC now, before more lives are needlessly lost.”

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. Earlier this month, Blumenthal introduced the Positive Train Control Safety Act to ensure that railroads are moving forward swiftly to install Positive Train Control technology (PTC), 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.