NJ Transit will miss U.S. deadline for ‘positive train control’ installation

 A New Jersey Transit train travels across a portal bridge in Kearny, New Jersey. NJ Transit will nt meet the federal deadline for installation of the new safety measure

A New Jersey Transit train travels across a portal bridge in Kearny, New Jersey. NJ Transit will nt meet the federal deadline for installation of the new safety measure "positive train control." (AP file)

Federal law requires all passenger and freight railroads in the U.S. to install a new safety system by the end of the year. It’s the system Amtrak says likely could have prevented the deadly derailment in Philadelphia this spring.

New Jersey Transit, however, will not be meeting that deadline.

With $225 million in state funds allocated for the “positive train control” system on NJ Transit’s 322-mile train routes, spokeswoman Nancy Snyder said Friday the agency is making progress.

“This is a complex and not off-the-shelf technology, and we’re still experiencing challenges with acquiring radio spectrum on the commercial market,” she said. “In addition, there are developmental complexities relative to inoperability with our freight partners taking longer than expected, which we are working in earnest to resolve.”

Plans call for positive train control to be introduced next year on a seven-mile stretch of track between Morristown and Denville, Snyder said.  The technology will be phased in systemwide by 2018.

NJ Transit, which meets federal safety requirements, has an older system in place to deal with potential problems.

“Known as ‘automatic train control,’ ATC is already throughout our system. ATC ensures that trains comply with the signal system,” she said. “It notifies the engineer when it receives a more restricting signal and applies the brakes automatically if the engineer does not respond.”

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