Florida’s SunRail commuter rail system failed to implement new safety features within the allotted time set by the government, which federal officials say led to a delay that endangered lives.
LobbyTools reports that after the federal government had mandated commuter and freight train systems to set up a wide-ranging web of safeguards by 2018, but some — including SunRail — asked for a two-year delay.
SunRail representatives say they are working on the federal safety directives, called “positive train control,” which is expected to cost about $35 million.
Positive train controls utilize a system of satellites, wireless communication, and computers for automatically slowing or stopping speeding trains heading for a collision and derailment.
LobbyTools notes that officials believe such a system could have saved the lives of eight passengers killed last year in a speeding Amtrak crash in Philadelphia
“Positive Train Control prevents rail accidents and saves lives. We are encouraged that many railroads have submitted plans to meet — some even to beat — 2018,” said Federal Railroad Administration representative Sarah Feinberg. “But we remain concerned that several other freight and passenger railroads are aiming for 2020.”
The state-operated SunRail considered outside contractors to do the work last year. However, new technologies forced a delay in implementation and led to the request Florida Department of Transportation spokesperson Steve Olson told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
The state will continue the search for contractors, with the goal of having them in place by the end of the year.