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More than 1,200 missing in the California wildfires. Also on the Monday rundown: A pair of reports on gun violence in the nation; and concerns that proposed changes to 'Green Card' rules favor the wealthy.

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Connecticut Commuter Advocate: Don’t Put Brakes on Railroad Safety

An advocate for CT rail commuters says railroads should not be granted a three-year extension on the December 2015 deadline for installing positive control safety measures. Credit: wikimedia commons
An advocate for CT rail commuters says railroads should not be granted a three-year extension on the December 2015 deadline for installing positive control safety measures. Credit: wikimedia commons
July 27, 2015

HARTFORD, Conn. - As Connecticut rail commuters head back to work this week, lawmakers in Washington are debating another three-year delay on the deadline for railroads to install crash-prevention measures.

The system is called positive control and Jim Cameron, founder with the Commuter Action Group, believes lawmakers should not put the brakes on safety and instead should force railroads to meet the December 2015 deadline to install the system, which automatically slows trains if they approach curves at dangerous speeds.

"This is an outrageous last-minute attempt by the railroads, to absolve themselves of responsibility, for something that they have had seven years to work on," says Cameron.

The proposed three-year delay is contained in the Senate version of the Transportation Bill. An industry spokesperson defended the change, saying it represented substantial progress and offered a hard end date for installation by 2018.

Amtrak says it will install positive control in the northeast corridor by the current deadline. Cameron says that means trains on the New Haven line will get the added safety, while riders on the Harlem and Hudson lines would still be subject to human error.

"It's a little unclear for Connecticut what this delay would mean," says Cameron. "It certainly would mean that Metro North does not feel the sense of urgency that it should to put this technology into place; it's something they've had seven years to work on and there should be no reason that they can't get it done."

Congress set the 2015 deadline after a 2008 derailment in California that left 25 people dead. Experts say positive control could have prevented the Amtrak derailment two months ago that left eight dead in Pennsylvania. Investigators say that train was traveling at about twice the posted speed limit.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - CT