Rail Passengers Statement on Trains Magazine's Recent PTC Report
August 27, 2018
The Rail Passengers Association was shocked and concerned to see the recent reporting in Trains that Amtrak’s board will require Positive Train Control (PTC) on eight routes that the Federal Railroad Administration has exempted from the PTC requirement. If this decision were implemented, eight routes would be discontinued, including the Southwest Chief, Cardinal, California Zephyr, Texas Eagle, Downeaster, Vermonter, Ethan Allen, and City of New Orleans. Amtrak must immediately confirm or deny these reports.
In previous Congressional testimony, Amtrak executives stated that PTC-exempt routes would be the subject of individual risk assessments to determine what may be necessary to achieve a common standard of safety across the network.
“If Amtrak’s answer to the questions posed by our duly elected officials has changed, it is absolutely essential that they publicly state that fact,” said Rail Passengers President Jim Mathews. “If the Trains article is incorrect, they must publicly correct it. The company owes it to the public to be transparent in the decisions it makes regarding these publicly funded services.”
Rail Passengers has previously warned that while achieving PTC compliance is absolutely necessary, railroads must not be overly rigid in its implementation. Ignoring the broader transportation context which rail operates within will only lead to more transportation deaths.
“Shutting down parts of the passenger rail system over PTC implementation will in no way represent a safer transportation system for Americans. It will strip citizens of a transportation choice growing ridership warrants, and force them onto far more dangerous roads. Millions more who cannot drive will be left with no options at all,” said Mathews in a February 2018 statement. “Let's not lose sight of the important fact that rail—even as it's configured today—is at least 10 times safer than driving on the highway. Amtrak's National Network, state-supported corridors and Northeast Corridor services are still safe for passengers and will be made safer-still by full implementation of PTC.”
About the Rail Passengers Association
The Rail Passengers Association, previously known as the National Association of Railroad Passengers, is the oldest and largest national organization speaking for the nearly 40 million users of passenger trains and rail transit. We have worked since 1967 to expand the quality and quantity of passenger rail in the U.S. Our mission is to work towards a modern, customer-focused national passenger train network that provides a travel choice Americans want. Our work is supported by more than 28,000 individual members nationwide.
"I’m so proud that we came together in bipartisan fashion in the Senate to keep the Southwest Chief chugging along, and I’m grateful for this recognition from the Rail Passengers Association. This victory is a testament to what we can accomplish when we reach across the aisle and work together to advance our common interests."
Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)
April 2, 2019, on receiving the Association's Golden Spike Award for his work to protect the Southwest Chief