Grant to pay for PTC technology on Poughkeepsie train lines

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In the early morning hours of December 1, 2013, a Metro-North passenger train derailed near the Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx, killing four and injuring 61.

The National Transportation Safety Board has said the crash, in which a train conductor fell asleep as the train barreled through a curve at 82 mph, could have been avoided if positive train controls (PTC) had been installed on the tracks.

A federal grant of more than $33 million will allow the technology to be installed on a section of tracks that connects Poughkeepsie to Schenectady, that is primarily used for Amtrak passenger service.

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Railroad agencies across the country, such as CSX freight and Metro-North, are racing to meet a 2018 deadline to install the anti-collision and anti-derailment technology. The Empire lines between Poughkeepsie and Schenectady are leased by the state from CSX, and therefore installation of PTC would otherwise have to be paid by taxpayers, according to Sen. Charles Schumer.

Schumer was joined by Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro and City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison on Friday at the Poughkeepsie Train Station to announce the funding. Installation will begin immediately, Schumer said, and he expects the program to be fully implemented within a year.

“This particular rail line is critical to Dutchess County’s economy,” Molinaro said. “Not only is it among the fastest growing outward commutation (lines) from this region to the city … it’s also one of the fastest growing lines from New York City.”

PTC helps regulate train movement with the intention of increasing safety. Schumer said the federally mandated implementation of the technology has been “slow to happen” due to the technology’s high cost.

When the new program is installed on Empire lines, he said, train conductors will have access to a system that will automatically stop a train if it exceeds speed limits or encounters something on the track.

“We don’t want to prepare for disasters — we have our first responders, and they do an amazing job,” he said. “We want to prevent disasters.”

Manny Diaz, who has residences in both Brooklyn and Kingston, was waiting for his wife to arrive at the Poughkeepsie train station Friday afternoon. Because of their different schedules, he said he often finds himself picking her up from the train station, though he doesn’t ride the train.

Publicized incidents of derailments have left him worried for his wife, and he said he appreciates the funding.

“They need (to make) repairs,” said the 63-year-old, “and not just little patchwork.”

Suzan Bajardi, 71, of Red Hook, was getting ready to visit her son in Rochester on Friday and said that she’ll feel happy about the new technology when she sees it implemented.

[“Source-ndtv”]