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Has Amtrak's recent success come at the cost of passenger safety?

Amtrak boasted record profits for 2018, but as more and more riders are choosing to commute by train than plane, are Amtrak's profits coming at the expense of passenger safety?

CBS recently looked at the train crashes from the past several years and found that many of them could have been prevented by technology that was supposed to have been implemented by 2015. But instead of getting the technology in place, the railroads pushed for delays and have blamed the accidents on people who might not have done anything wrong.

Modern fixes for aging tracks

America's railways hold a proud place in the nation's history, but they're not getting any younger. The country first started laying tracks in the 1830s and completed the Transcontinental Railroad 150 years ago. Since then, railroad companies have added and upgraded their lines, but many sections of track have fallen into disrepair.

Companies like Amtrak still rely on humans to switch tracks even though errors can lead to fatal accidents. To combat the risks created by human mistakes, the government mandated the use of Positive Train Control (PTC), which could help in several ways:

  • Enforce speed limits along rail lines
  • Track the position and speed of each train on a line
  • Monitor the status of signals and switches

By communicating these things in real time between the trains, the lines and the back office, PTC will help save lives. The technology was supposed to have been in place everywhere by the end of 2015, but Amtrak and 36 other railroads have filed for extensions. Instead of implementing PTC, the railroad industry has focused on profits, and people are still getting injured or killed.

A problem for California

The state of Amtrak's lines is a concern for millions of Californians. In 2018, more than 11 million people rode Amtrak's trains across California. None of them rode with the guarantees of safety they were due. Amtrak's delayed implementation of PTC puts riders at risk, and if you're injured in a train accident, an attorney with solid knowledge of California's railways can help you seek the compensation you deserve.

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