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Lipinski Continues Push for Funding for Passenger Rail Safety Technology in the Wake of Amtrak Cascades Tragedy

Following Monday’s derailment of the Amtrak Cascades train, Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) released the following statement:

“My prayers continue to be with the victims of the Amtrak Cascades train crash and their families.  While it is too early to determine the exact cause of the derailment, we have learned that the train was travelling in excess of the speed limit on the section of track where the incident occurred. 

“As a member of the Subcommittee on Rail, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I have continuously worked to ensure the safety of our rail system, especially rail passengers. 

“Positive Train Control (PTC) is a lifesaving technology that can automatically slow and stop trains before accidents occur in certain situations, such as when a train is going too fast.  According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, PTC is not yet operational on the Port Defiance Bypass corridor and will not be until Spring of 2018. 

“A problem for passenger rail agencies is that PTC is expensive and they struggle to find the money to pay for it.  Locally, Metra estimates that PTC implementation will cost $350 to $400 million and will add $15 to $20 million a year to operating costs. 

“During consideration of the comprehensive transportation bill known as the FAST Act, I authored a provision which created a $199 million grant program for the installation of PTC on commuter railroads across the country.  Earlier this year, I was able to help Metra obtain $20 million from this program.  In the wake of this tragedy, I am continuing my push to provide more federal funding to passenger rail agencies for this critical safety technology. 

“I am hopeful that Congress will finally move forward in January with a long-awaited infrastructure bill and we can include funding that will speed the deployment of PTC and make passenger rail safer.”