SEPTA to Install New Safety System in Wake of Fatal Bronx Accident

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Commuters who use SEPTA and Amtrak feel that despite the train derailment in New York, they maintain confidence in the safety of Philadlephia's public transit systems. (Published Tuesday, Dec 3, 2013)

    As officials continue to investigate a train derailment in the Bronx on Sunday that killed four people and injured more than 60 others, SEPTA managers are working to implement technology that could prevent a similar accident from happening in the future.

    “We want to understand what happened,” said Jeffrey Knueppel, Deputy General Manager of SEPTA.

    SEPTA officials say they’ve finished a $150 million rail safety installation throughout the system called automatic train control. Under the system, if a train is about to collide with something on the tracks, a computer override slows the train down.

    Still, while effective, experts say the system isn’t sophisticated enough to prevent the kind of accident that occurred in New York.

    “I’m getting on a train as soon as we’re finished,” said Congressman Rob Andrews. “So yes I believe it’s safe. But it’s not safe enough.”

    That’s why SEPTA officials are also spending $170 million on a state of the art computer system called Positive Train Control. The system can override the engineer and take control of the train during an emergency.

    “We certainly have to do this PTC system sooner than later,” Andrews said.

    Congress is requiring several rail lines, including SEPTA, Amtrak and New York’s Metro North Line which was involved in Sunday’s fatal accident, to install the high tech computer system by the end of 2015.

    “It basically prevents overspeeding which potentially could have been involved in this accident as a cause and it will also prevent you from going through a red signal,” Knueppel said. “It provides you a greater level of safety than what we currently have out there.”

     


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