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Train control technology could’ve prevented derailment

by Lynde Langdon
Posted 12/20/17, 12:24 pm

The Amtrak train that derailed Monday near Seattle was months shy of having technology installed that could have prevented the deadly crash. Work to implement the sophisticated, GPS-based system known as positive train control was planned for next spring on the newly opened 15-mile span of track where the train derailed, according to Sound Transit, the public agency that owns the tracks. The train was going 80 mph in a 30 mph zone before it derailed, killing three people and injuring dozens. A positive train control system could have detected the speeding and automatically applied the brakes. Investigators have not said why the train was going so fast but are looking into whether the engineer was distracted. The government has ordered railroads to install positive train control by the end of 2018 after the industry lobbied Congress to extend earlier deadlines, citing complexity and cost. Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson said Tuesday he wants to implement the technology but would not directly answer questions about why it is taking so long to get it up and running.

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Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital assistant editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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