AirTalk for December 4, 2013

After NYC commuter rail crash, is automated train technology the answer to human error?

First responders gather around the derailment of a Metro North passenger train in the Bronx borough of New York on Sunday.

Craig Ruttle/AP

First responders gather around the derailment of a Metro North passenger train in the Bronx borough of New York on Sunday.

The train engineer at the helm of the weekend's NYC commuter rail crash made troubling admissions yesterday. According the lawyer of William Rockefeller, the engineer was in a "daze" and nodded at controls before realizing something was wrong - the train was travelling 80 mph into a 30-mph zone.

It's becoming apparent the deadly crash that killed four people was the result of human error. The crash brings back memories of the terrible rail collision in Chatsworth at the hands of an engineer distracted by text messaging. Since that crash, automated train technology called Positive Train Control has been mandated for installation on commuter services, but without any promised funding.

How successful has its implementation been for Metrolink? What safety technologies exist for regions that rely heavily on rail, such as Europe and Japan?

Guest:
Charles Banks, President, R.L. Banks & Associates rail consultants, with expertise in railroad economics, engineering and service planning; Banks worked with the LA, Orange and Riverside County Transportation Commissions; Banks commentary “Positive Train Control: Good Idea, Terrible Implementation and Blame All The Way Around”


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