Minnesota Trains Getting Positive Train Control

October 7, 2016

New safety technology that may have prevented last week’s deadly train crash in New Jersey is being implemented along some rail lines in Minnesota and elsewhere.

The new technology, known as positive train control, is designed to automatically slow or stop a train to prevent accidents such as a collision with another train or a derailment caused by excessive speed, the St. Cloud Times reported.

Last week, a train crashed into New Jersey rail station, killing a woman and injuring more than 100 other people. The National Transportation Safety Board said it would check to see if a lack of automatic brakes contributed to the crash.

Congress passed the Rail Safety Improvement Act in 2008 after a freight train in Chatsworth, Calif., killed 25 people and injured 135 others. That law required positive train control technology to be implemented on all Class I passenger lines and freight trains carrying certain hazardous materials by 2015.

Congress delayed that deadline last year for at least three years after railroads said installing such a complex technology had never been attempted on such a large scale.

However, Minnesota railroad companies have already started installing the safety technology and hope to have the system ready for use by December 2018.

“BNSF believes we are on target to meet this goal, but we reserve our right to continue testing past the deadline as we enter the uncharted territory of addressing issues such as interoperability with other railroads,” said BNSF spokeswoman Amy McBeth.

BNSF plans to install the safety technology to about half of its system, which carries 80 percent of its freight.

Eighty-seven percent of the BNSF trains are fully equipped with the safety technology and 90 percent of the track installations have been completed.

The company said they have advanced into the testing stages of the technology and they hope to keep pushing ahead toward the application of the system.

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