Rail Safety a Hot Topic in 2010

With so many people traveling in cars, buses and airplanes, who knew what a hot topic rail safety would be in 2010? It turns out the railroads had to submit a plan in April that showed how they were going to implement Positive Train Control. That’s basically a way to make sure if the train driver doesn’t obey signals like stop signs, the train can do it for him. It’s a huge step for the railroad industry, and one that’s been considered by Congress since the mid 1990s. But it’s also very expensive, and the benefits are now the subject of feisty debate. I’m going to go hear some of that debate at the American Public Transportation Association’s annual Rail Conference in Vancouver next week. I’m sure I’ll hear from both sides- those who think this is a great advance for rail safety, and those who think it’s just not worth it. Should our national transportation systems be as safe as is technologically possible? Or is an affordable level of safety okay?

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