Positive Train Control Should Have Been Implemented Years Ago.

Aug 24, 2015

The head-on collision between two Norfolk Southern (actually Central of Georgia) freight trains on August the 7th in Sandersville, Georgia is not a simple matter of one train going where it should not have. This is 2015. Let me repeat that – this is 2015.Yet, Norfolk Southern still has dark territory where it does not control or even really know where its trains are located.Positive Train Control should have been implemented years ago.Norfolk Southern has the ability to send messages to its engineers to tell them how to save fuel based on traffic expectations and delays, but does not have the ability to warn a crew that its train is moving into the path of another train.At first glance it’s easy to blame the crew for failing to stop and hold where they should have.But doing so ignores the reality that trains go where they shouldn’t go and have near collisions all too often.

Our firm has handled way too many head on collisions – and not all of them were in rail yards.They were on mainline track in our communities. Think about this fact: If a tractor trailer drivers drives his truck off route to stop at his girlfriend’s house, his employer knows instantly and can send a message asking him why the shipment is off the prescribed route.Trucking companies are able to know in real time when their drivers are speeding, or stopped or deviating from the proper path.

Many people have automobiles that communicate regularly with the dealerships. My wife was sent an email just this week telling her that her car had told the dealership it needed service.Yet, the railroads in too many ways remain in the dark ages.No one died in Sandersville, but they could have.It’s far past the time when Norfolk Southern embraces and uses modern technology to protect its crews, its customers, and the public.