SEPTA is outspending Amtrak on PTC safety technology

Video: Experts analyze Amtrak 188 crash

The Inquirer’s Paul Nussbaum interviewed Amtrak’s CEO, Joseph Boardman, asking questions on train safety in the wake of Tuesday’s tragic derailment.

Boardman defended Amtrak’s record and the decision not to install Positive Train Control at the curve where the accident occurred, tell Nussbaum “We’re the leader in PTC… with more financing, we could have done it sooner.”

The National Transportation Safety Board has said that PTC could have prevented the derailment.

Boardman told the Inquirer that Amtrak has spent $111 million installing the safety system so far.

SEPTA has spent $239 million installing the safety system.

Amtrak operates on more 21,300 miles of routes, and it owns 363 miles of the 457-mile Northeast Corridor.

SEPTA’s regional rail lines cover 280 miles.

Under the 2008 Rail Safety Improvement Act, PTC is only required on intercity commuter rail – regional rail and Amtrak – and freight lines. Subways, trolleys and light rail are not required to have PTC.

The SEPTA plans to spend a total of roughly $328 million dollars installing the system. Of that amount, about $150 million is going towards installing an Automatic Train Control system along SEPTA tracks – a precursor safety system of sorts for full PTC – and another $150 million is for installing the Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System that, when combined with Automated Train Control, makes up a PTC system. Another $28 million is going to building new tracks for the West Trenton line.

Amtrak did not respond to requests for comment.

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