Metro-North and LIRR will share a federal loan of nearly $1 billion dollars for safety updates aimed at cutting down on train accidents and making the two lines models of high-tech railroad safety nationwide, according to a recent article in the Hartford Courant.
Regulators with the Federal Railroad Administration say that the “positive train control” system uses GPS technology to help trains avoid collisions. Although Congress gave the FRA seven years, with a deadline of 2015, to install the equipment in all passenger and freight lines currently operating in the United States, the agency has not had the funding or resources to meet the deadline.
Instead, the FRA and officials for LIRR and Metro-North say that installing the equipment on New York’s busiest train lines will “set an example for the nation,” demonstrating the importance of safety features and encouraging other passenger and freight lines to take their share of the responsibility for installation. Supporters of the new technology say that it could have prevented several recent New York train accidents, including the 2013 Bronx train crash that claimed the lives of four passengers.
Technicians will soon begin installing GPS transponders along the several hundred miles of track used by the two train lines and on over 1,400 rail cars. So far, a deadline for completing the installation has not been set. Although rail safety advocates have stated that the goal is to encourage other passenger and freight lines to use the same technology, they have not said how the technology slated for use in the Metro-North and LIRR lines can be adapted to other rail lines.