In 2008, Congress mandated that a new railroad safety feature be implemented on all systems by the end of 2015, according to NBC News. Unfortunately, the project is not expected to be completed on time and could not be installed in enough time to prevent the derailment of Amtrak train No. 188.
Positive Train Control (PTC), which uses GPS, wireless radio and computers to prevent trains from going over the speed limit, would have forced the speeding Amtrak train to slow down. The locomotive was traveling over 100 and immediately derailed when it attempted to negotiate a curve in a 50 MPH zone, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
Most of the Northeast Corridor—the stretch between Washington, D.C. and Boston- is equipped with PTC, but installation crews have not yet reached the stretch of tracks where the derailment occurred, reported NBC News.
All seven train cars were damaged when the train went off the tracks on the night of May 12, 2015. Some cars overturned during the derailment and one was completely mangled.
More than 200 of the 238 passengers were treated for injuries at several Philadelphia hospitals. Eight lives were lost as a result of this preventable accident.
“Had such a system been installed in this section of track, this accident would not have occurred,” said NTSB spokesman Robert Sumwalt.
The NTSB has lobbied for train safety and the installation of PTC since 1970. “Each death, each injury, and each accident that PTC could have prevented, testifies to the vital importance of implementing PTC now,” said an agency spokesperson.