Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney from the 18th district of New York is pushing for the use of new technology in the state’s mass transit system to prevent further accidents like the deadly Metro North crash that took place in early February. He and Rep. Nita Lowey of the 17th district have been working on a bipartisan bill called the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act, a new piece of legislation that emphasizes the use of updated technology on rails.
The February accident involved a vehicle that had stopped on the tracks. The train engineer applied the emergency brake to the train, but it was too late — there was no stopping the train from crashing into the trapped SUV. As a result, the driver of the SUV and several passengers in the train’s first car were killed.
The new bill would mandate the use of positive train control, a technology that stops trains automatically. The equipment sends a signal to the engineer driving the train about potential obstacles on the tracks and brings the train to an automatic stop without the engineer having to respond. This process could save precious seconds and help avoid serious crashes.
There could be other potential changes coming to rail regulations. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut has raised concerns about the proximity of train tracks to gates, and has gone on record as saying that it’s easy to see how a car could get trapped in the center of the track with the way gates are positioned. Legislation on the issue is imminent and will hopefully make train travel safer for all in New York State and beyond.
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