Sen. Hwang and Rep. Devlin Call for Information and Timing of Implementation from Metro-North re: PTC

September 21, 2018

Train SationFairfield—Standing on the platform today at the Fairfield Train Station, state Senator Tony Hwang (R-28th Senate) provided an update on Metro-North’s latest information on the implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) for train safety.

“The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), in which Metro-North is an affiliated subagency, has received over a billion dollars in loans and grants and an extension to implement PTC technology that was mandated in 2008,” said Sen. Hwang. “I have for the past two years and will continue to demand more information and updates from Metro-North on this important train safety issue. The commuters in southwestern Connecticut who rely on Metro-North deserve a real timeline for when the life-saving PTC technology will be operational.  Safety is my priority.  I will continue to monitor this situation and if I feel Metro-North is lacking or unresponsive to keeping the commuter public and the CT General Assembly informed, I will be your voice to make sure you are heard.”

Fairfield’s state Representative on the Transportation committee Laura Devlin also lamented a lack of information for state legislators as well as members of the public.

“As a former Metro-North commuter myself, I fully understand what it means to place your safety in the hands of the railroad every day,” said Rep. Devlin. “When you commute, tragedies like the 2013 Spuyten Duyvil derailment are always in the back or your mind. That incident could have been prevented by PTC. There have been enough delays on PTC. Metro-North needs to get this done, and it needs to tell us the plan.”

Legislators from New York have also been critical of Metro-North’s delayed implementation of PTC.  In July, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said:

“The MTA has had ample time and ample money to get this job done so there is simply no excuse for Metro-North and LIRR not to fully implement Positive Train Control by the end of this year. Enough excuses: the technology is available and the money is in place, including a billion dollar federal loan that I supported.”

Background: After a series of accidents a few years ago, Metro-North committed to installing PTC to improve safety on the railroad. Metro-North has stated that PTC will be installed by the Decwmber 31, 2018 deadline. However, the railroad says the system will not be “fully operational.” Metro-North has also stated it has the right to submit “an alternative schedule for up to two additional years to have PTC fully activated across all parts of the railroad upon filing the paperwork with Federal regulators.”

Dismayed at this potential for a two-year delay, Sen. Hwang sent a letter to the president of Metro-North and copied southwestern Connecticut’s federal delegation and Connecticut DOT Commissioner James Redeker. The letter was sent on August 29th and resent September 12th. After nearly three weeks, Sen. Hwang finally received a response from Metro-North president Catherine Rinaldi and CT Transportation Commissioner James Redeker at 8:33 a.m. on the morning of his press avail. Sen. Hwang believes that public pressure is the only way to keep Metro-North accountable and responsive on this vital public safety project.