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Rick Shapiro
Rick Shapiro
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El Paso, Texas Another Example of the Potential for Disasters Caused by Lack of Railroad Safety

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1020_NWS_EPT_L_TRAINACCIDENT_1_VCEl Paso County, Texas (TX) boasts more than 300 sunny days a year.  According to their visitor’s bureau, El Paso is a great place for year-round outdoor activities, as long as they aren’t close to railroad tracks.  A recent railroad derailment highlighted the need for more rail safety in the area.  While no injuries were reported as a result of the derailment, the incident highlights the ever present potential for disasters caused by trains and the cargo they carry.  This railroad derailment is not an isolated incident and a study found that El Paso County had more train accidents than any other county in the district.  The TxDOT study says that train safety hazards present in the El Paso region include accidents at rail and roadway crossings, trespasser casualties, derailments and hazardous material spills.  It also identified 33 rail improvements throughout the district, which would cost $314 million.

Unfortunately El Paso is the rule instead of the exception and is just one example of many areas affected by dangerous railroad conditions that exist all over the country.  It might surprise you that there is a solution that would prevent many of these accidents and injuries.  The rail anti-crash technology, known as Positive Train Control or PTC, is designed to automatically stop a train before it is able to run a red signal or get itself into other dangerous situations. It might surprise you even more to learn that railroad companies were mandated to implement it.  But railroads have almost unanimously refused to adopt this technology to make railway travel safe, mainly due to expense.

What we have to ask ourselves, lawmakers and railroad companies is, “How much is a human life worth?”  Is not the expense of improving safety and saving lives worth more than company profits?  Members of congress must stand up to railroad lobbyists that have been pressuring them to delay the PTC mandate by three years, meaning compliance will not be required until sometime in 2018.