Philadelphia Law Firm Applauds Amtrak's Safety Advances in Northeast and Urges Other Railroads to Install Positive Train Control Sooner Rather than Later

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Wapner, Newman, Wigrizer, Brecher & Miller comments on Amtrak's recent annual report to Congress regarding Fiscal Year (FY) 2017.

Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys

Installing PTC will reduce human error and save lives. It is unfair to keep expecting people to compromise their safety while waiting for railroad companies to fulfill their legal obligations.

Amtrak, major transportation provider in the Northeast Corridor (NEC), provided its annual report to Congress on February 12, 2016, stating, "To ensure the safety of those trips, Amtrak – alone among all subject railroads – met the 2015 statutory deadline to complete implementation of a full positive train control (PTC) system on the NEC."

Well-known Eastern Pennsylvania law firm Wapner, Newman, Wigrizer, Brecher & Miller, which represents those injured in transportation-related accidents, acknowledges that there are hurdles to getting all U.S. railroads to implement PTC in a timely manner, but also recognizes that the lifesaving change has been a long time in coming. PTC uses GPS, on-board wireless radios, and computers to monitor trains and stop them from derailing, colliding, or speeding. The technology combines onboard systems, trackside systems, and back office servers that can override improper action or inaction by an engineer, and slow or stop the train.

The Rail Safety Improvement Act was enacted after a rash of fatal rail accidents, culminating in 2008 when a Metrolink commuter train and a Union Pacific freight train collided head-on in California, killing 25 people and injuring 102 others. “Railroads were able to resist the financial expense and inconvenience of implementing PTC for years,” observes Managing Partner Marc Brecher. “Once Congress passed RSIA, some commuter railroads began making the sacrifices needed to stop putting profits ahead of the human cost, and we applaud the accomplishments of Amtrak set forth in their recent report to Congress. But many others, including influential rail groups in the freight industry, have spent the time complaining about the imposition and dragging their feet.”

It was only days after last year's deadly Philadelphia derailment that The New York Times reported officials believed it was highly likely that PTC could have prevented the catastrophe that killed eight and injured more than 200. Nevertheless, in October, lawmakers agreed to extend the December 31, 2015, deadline an extra three years -- with an optional additional two years if requested prior to the new 2018 deadline. Requests are subject to individual approval by the Department of Transportation.

“It’s unfortunate that the Philadelphia train accident did not convince Congress to find a solution to adherence other than extending the time by up to five years," said Steven G. Wigrizer, the firm's president. "Installing PTC will reduce human error and save lives. It is unfair to keep expecting people to compromise their safety while waiting for railroad companies to fulfill their legal obligations.”

While some railroads have made great strides toward compliance, others seem to still be focused on running out of time and money. “Certainly, upgrading to PTC technology is not without its challenges,” Wigrizer continued, “but the railroads that keep postponing need to follow the example of those that have managed the task and commit to speedy implementation before another tragic accident happens.”

About Wapner, Newman, Wigrizer, Brecher & Miller
For over 30 years, the law firm of Wapner, Newman, Wigrizer, Brecher & Miller has been helping victims of serious personal injury and wrongful death receive the justice and compensation they deserve. They serve personal injury victims throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with offices in Philadelphia, West Conshohocken, Allentown, and Marlton. For more information or to get help with a potential claim, call 1-800-LAW-6600 (1-800-529-6600).

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