As technology is introduced in various ways to all manner of transportation, from buses to cars that take steps closer and closer to drivers optional each year, it is logical that trains may make similar steps forward with technology. As it stands, there is a certain form of technology that could make a difference when it comes to engineer error and make a significant impact on the prevalence of derailments.
Technology Takes a Step Forward On the Rails
Positive train control is considered by some to be the next big step in train improvements. It is said it would override operator errors and begin slowing the train if an engineer is allowing excessive speed or misses a signal.
Officials like the former head of the Federal Railroad Administration speak well of the new technology, noting that despite its benefits the technology will not be implemented for years to come due to issues.
Installation Has Begun, But Not Quickly Enough
Positive train control will require the installation of GPS sensors in order to communicate the train’s speed and potential obstacles. The sensors will know the speed on every stretch of rail, allowing the adjustments to be made as necessary, even if the engineer is not active at that time. Reports from Amtrak prior to the accident noted the technology has been added to 400 miles of track so far. This, obviously, did not include the stretch in Philadelphia where seven people were killed in mid-May due to excessive speed and derailment.
The report in April from Amtrak, published in their employee magazine, noted plans were moving forward for 1,200 miles of track that would complete the installation in the Northeast corridor. That would have included the track segment in Philadelphia.
The fact that this derailment is far from the only one to occur in recent years, and the fact that the technology is available, means investigation made by Dallas family lawyers will be top priority to determine why it was not installed in time to prevent this accident. With this type of heat on that investigation, it can be hoped that future derailments will be avoided as a result of the attention and the push to get the technology installed more quickly. With lives at stake, it only makes sense to work hard and invest wisely to make sure positive train control becomes the norm on every track, keeping train passengers safe.