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Randy Appleton
Randy Appleton
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Runaway Chicago Freight Train Injures Passengers in Railroad Collision

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130930131500-02-chicago-train-crash-horizontal-galleryMore than 30 people at the Harlem station in Chicago were injured when a freight train slammed head-on into their passenger train.  The most bizarre part of the whole accident is that the out of service freight train traveled for a half-mile completely driverless.  Officials are calling it the CTA “ghost train” and it even breached multiple safeguards before colliding with the passenger train.  The president of the CTA rail workers union said, “The million-dollar question is, ‘How did this happen? This is baffling everybody.”

It’s more than baffling it’s dangerous.  If rail workers don’t know how it happened or how they could have prevented what is to stop this from happening again?  It’s no mystery though that if Positive Train Control was operational this accident never would have occurred.  Positive Train Control is one of many new safety measures mandated by the U.S. Federal Government to help prevent train-to-train collisions, derailments and other human-caused accidents. If warnings to slow down or to stop a train go unnoticed by an engineer, the locomotive’s onboard computer will automatically apply the brakes after a certain amount of time, with the intention to prevent a collision and potentially save lives.

{Click here for more Positive Train Control Railroad information}

As a railroad worker injury and wrongful death attorney based in Virginia (VA), I know that PTC was mandated back in 2008.  But last year, the industry spent nearly $47 million lobbying the federal government to extend and delay safety deadlines.  The railroad companies are in the business to make money at the cost of their employees and passengers it seems.  On the same day the Federal Railroad Administration to agree to excuse the corporations from equipping thousands of miles of tracks with positive train control technologyNorfolk Southern informed investors that it took in more than $11 billion in revenues during the 2011 fiscal year.  Safety should be a number one priority for companies that send 164 ton payloads hurtling down tracks through our neighborhoods and across our streets.