NJ Transit to Spend $32.5 Million on Train Safety

More than $32 Million Will Ensure NJ Transit Meets Positive Train Control Installation Deadline 

How safe is public transportation in New Jersey? According to a recent article from NorthJersey.com, NJ Transit will be spending an additional $32.5 million on train safety to “ensure that its positive train control installation meets the 2018 deadline.” The NJ Transit board of directors met to consider the additional spending and unanimously approved it. The $32.5 million will be an amount on top of the $173.4 million that NJ Transit already has spent on the positive train control installation project. In total, estimates suggest that more than $320 million will need to be spent in order to reach the safety goal and to prevent train accidents.

What is positive train control? As the article explains, it is a system that is “designed to automatically prevent certain train accidents like train-on-train collisions and derailments due to high speeds.” After the relatively recent deadly train crash in Hoboken during September 2016, NJ Transit has been taking a closer look at its trains. A Congressional mandate requires that all trains have the positive train control installed by the end of 2018. However, “NJ Transit has a way to go.”

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has reported that of New Jersey’s 124 total towers, only five can be used with positive train control, and none of the trains that are part of NJ Transit (currently 440 trains) have had the new technology installed. In addition, there are still 1,100 employees who need to receive training on positive train control before such a system actually can work to prevent train accidents.

Will NJ Transit be able to fulfill the Congressional mandate before the end of 2018? The answer to that question is one that safety advocates would like to know. The hope is that the additional $32.5 million in funding will help to bring it to that goal. Currently, the trains are being retrofitted so that the new positive train control technology can prevent accidents and save lives, and Steven Santoro, the Executive Director of NJ Transit, indicated that he anticipates the trains will all be retrofitted by the end of 2018.

Preventing Train Accidents and Injuries 

Train crashes due to operator error are hard to avoid- but can you do anything to avoid train accidents? According to a safety tip sheet from Operation Lifesaver: Rail Safety Education, the following are some important facts about train crashes that will help passengers, motor vehicle drivers, and pedestrians avoid potential injuries:

  • Freight trains do not run on a fixed schedule, and as such you should always anticipate that a freight train could appear at a highway-rail intersection;
  • Trains traveling 55 miles per hour require about one mile of train track in order to stop, so never walk along or stand on train tracks;
  • Trains always have the right of way, regardless of whether you are on foot or behind the wheel of a car;
  • Trains can move both backward or forward, and as such you should never assume you are safe when you are behind a train;
  • Trains are quieter than you might think, which means you may not hear a train approaching; and
  • Designated pedestrian and roadway crossings exist to keep pedestrians and drivers safe- therefore, only cross train tracks at designated crossing points.

Hopefully, with increased funding- NJ Transit trains will become safer by 2018. In the event that you or someone you love were injured in a train accident, contact a train accident lawyer to discuss your case.

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