On December 18th, 2017 America’s rail transportation system was once again rocked by a potentially avoidable tragedy. Amtrak Cascades 501 detailed on its first commercial voyage en route from Seattle to Portland when it traveled more than 50mph above the limit around a curve on a newly installed section of track. While the National Traffic Safety Board has not yet completed its investigation of the causes of the derailment, one NTSB official publically suggested that failure to implement Positive Train Control (PTC) technology could be at least partially to blame: “Every year that we wait to implement PTC to its fullest extent means that more people will be killed and injured,” said the NTSB’s Bella Dinh-Zarr.
On Sept. 12, 2008, a commuter rail train collided head-on with a long haul freight train in the Chatsworth district of Los Angeles, killing 25 people and injuring more than 100. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined the cause of the crash to be the failure of the train’s engineer to stop at a red signal — likely because of distraction resulting from texting.