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Positive Train Control (PTC) automatic braking systems are designed to prevent train-to-train collisions, over-speed derailments, incursions into established work zones, and accidents due to switches left in the wrong position.  

For example, in 2005, a Norfolk Southern freight train derailed because of a switch left in the wrong position, leaking tons of chlorine gas, killing 9 people and leaving 554 people with respiratory injuries.  Because of this and many subsequent rail industry derailments, "60 Minutes" questioned the safety of railroads operating without PTC.  Watch the video here.
Rail Pollution Protection Pittsburgh agrees that there's a need for PTC and believes that before $20 million of taxpayer money is given to Norfolk Southern to increase their volume of train traffic, they must agree to ensure Positive Train Controls are implemented throughout the 20-mile route of their Pittsburgh Vertical Clearance Project, and the rest of Allegheny County.  Moreover, Norfolk Southern should be made to further agree to install a backup PTC system for use when the primary PTC system is offline for maintenance.

PTC Background: Congress passed and the President signed the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 requiring PTC systems to be fully implemented by December 31, 2015 on Class I railroads’ main lines that transport  poison- or toxic-by-inhalation hazardous materials and any main lines with regularly scheduled intercity or commuter rail passenger service.  In October 2015, Congress extended the deadline for full implementation by at least three years to December 31, 2018, and required the Federal Rail Administration to approve any railroad’s request for an “alternative schedule and sequence” with a final deadline not later than December 31, 2020, if a railroad demonstrated it met certain statutory criteria by December 31, 2018. 

Please contact the people below, asking them to freeze the $20 million of funding in the interim to ensure the safety of the 1,230,000 people living within the one-mile blast zone of Norfolk Southern's rail line in Allegheny County.

Rosemary Chiavetta, Secretary
Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission
400 North St., 2nd Fl.
Harrisburg, PA 17105–3265

Leslie S. Richards, Secretary
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
400 North Street, 8th Floor
Harrisburg, PA  17120-0095

In addition, contact Congressman Conor Lamb’s office to request that PTC deadlines are strictly enforced by emailing his Transportation Head, Heather Painter, at

Time has run out.  No more extensions for Norfolk Southern. 


Rail Pollution Protection Pittsburgh
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