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Case Studies of PTC-Preventable Accidents

[+] Author Affiliations
Dave Schlesinger

Parsons, Pomona, CA

Paper No. JRC2016-5838, pp. V001T06A022; 5 pages
  • 2016 Joint Rail Conference
  • 2016 Joint Rail Conference
  • Columbia, South Carolina, USA, April 12–15, 2016
  • Conference Sponsors: Rail Transportation Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4967-5
  • Copyright © 2016 by ASME


A 1969 collision of two Penn Central train resulted in four fatalities and forty-five injuries. This accident could have been prevented, had some type of train control system been in place. After this accident, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) asked the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to study the feasibility of requiring railroads to install some type of automatic train control system that would prevent human-factor caused accidents. Over the next almost four decades, a number of additional accidents occurred, culminating in the January, 2005 Graniteville Norfolk-Southern accident and the September, 2008 Metrolink Chatsworth accident.

A little more than one month after the Metrolink accident, Congress passed the Rail Safety Improvement Act, which requires Positive Train Control (PTC). To better explain the positive train control requirements, this paper traces each to a detailed case study. Four different accidents are studied, each being an example of one of the four, core positive train control requirements. Included in the case study is a discussion about how positive train control would have prevented the accident, had it been present.

This provides positive train control implementers and other railroad professionals with a better understanding of the factors that have caused or contributed to the cause of the positive train control preventable accidents studied.

Copyright © 2016 by ASME
Topics: Accidents



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