|Long title||An Act to amend title 49, United States Code, to prevent railroad fatalities, injuries, and hazardous materials releases, to authorize the Federal Railroad Safety Administration, and for other purposes.|
|Enacted by||the 110th United States Congress|
|Public law||Pub.L. 110–432|
|Statutes at Large||122 Stat. 4848|
|Titles amended||49 U.S.C.|
The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 is a United States federal law, enacted by Congress to improve railroad safety. Among its provisions, the most notable was the mandate requiring positive train control (PTC) technology to be installed on most of the US railroad network by 2015. This was spurred by the 2008 Chatsworth train collision the month prior to passage of the act. In October 2015 Congress extended the deadline to 2018.
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, and consists of two chambers: the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. Both senators and representatives are chosen through direct election, though vacancies in the Senate may be filled by a gubernatorial appointment. Congress has 535 voting members: 435 representatives and 100 senators. The House of Representatives has six non-voting members representing Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia in addition to its 435 voting members. Although they cannot vote in the full house, these members can address the house, sit and vote in congressional committees, and introduce legislation.
Positive train control (PTC) is a system of functional requirements for monitoring and controlling train movements and is a type of train protection system. The term stems from control engineering. The train is only allowed to move in case of positive movement allowance. It generally improves the safety of railway traffic.
The Chatsworth train collision occurred at 4:22:23 p.m. PDT on Friday, September 12, 2008, when a Union Pacific freight train and a Metrolink commuter train collided head-on in the Chatsworth district of Los Angeles, California. The scene of the accident was a curved section of single track on the Metrolink Ventura County Line just east of Stoney Point.
Starting in 1990 the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) counted PTC among its "Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements." [ citation needed ]At the time, the vast majority of rail lines relied on the human crew for complying with all safety rules, and a significant fraction of accidents were attributable to human error.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent U.S. government investigative agency responsible for civil transportation accident investigation. In this role, the NTSB investigates and reports on aviation accidents and incidents, certain types of highway crashes, ship and marine accidents, pipeline incidents, and railroad accidents. When requested, the NTSB will assist the military and foreign governments with accident investigation. The NTSB is also in charge of investigating cases of hazardous materials releases that occur during transportation. The agency is based in Washington, D.C. It has four regional offices located in Anchorage, Alaska; Denver, Colorado; Ashburn, Virginia; and Seattle, Washington. The agency also operates a national training center at its Ashburn facility.
In September 2008, Congress considered a new rail safety law that set a deadline of 2015 for implementation of PTC technology across most of the U.S. rail network. The bill, ushered through the legislative process by the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, was developed in response to the collision of a Metrolink passenger train and a Union Pacific freight train September 12, 2008, in California, which resulted in the deaths of 25 and injuries to more than 135 passengers.
As the bill neared final passage by Congress, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) issued a statement in support of the bill.President George W. Bush signed the 315-page Rail Safety Improvement Act into law on October 16, 2008.
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) is an industry trade group representing primarily the major freight railroads of North America. Amtrak and some regional commuter railroads are also members. Smaller freight railroads are typically represented by the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA), although some smaller railroads and railroad holding companies are also members of the AAR. The AAR also has two associate programs, and most associates are suppliers to the railroad industry.
George Walker Bush is an American politician and businessman who served as the 43rd president of the United States from 2001 to 2009. He had previously served as the 46th governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000.
Among its provisions, the law provides funding to help pay for the development of PTC technology, limits the number of hours freight rail crews can work each month, and requires the Department of Transportation to determine work hour limits for passenger train crews.
The United States Department of Transportation is a federal Cabinet department of the U.S. government concerned with transportation. It was established by an act of Congress on October 15, 1966, and began operation on April 1, 1967. It is governed by the United States Secretary of Transportation.
To implement the law, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) published final regulations for PTC systems on January 15, 2010.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is an agency in the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). The agency was created by the Department of Transportation Act of 1966. The purpose of FRA is to promulgate and enforce rail safety regulations, administer railroad assistance programs, conduct research and development in support of improved railroad safety and national rail transportation policy, provide for the rehabilitation of Northeast Corridor rail passenger service, and consolidate government support of rail transportation activities.
In December 2010 the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that Amtrak and the major Class I railroads have taken steps to install PTC systems under the law, but the work may not be complete by the 2015 deadline. The railroads and their suppliers are continuing to develop software to test various system components, which could delay equipment installation. GAO also suggests that publicly funded commuter railroads will have difficulty in obtaining funds to pay for their system components.
In October 2015 Congress passed a bill extending the compliance deadline by three years, to December 31, 2018. President Barack Obama signed the bill on October 29, 2015.
Transportation in the United States is facilitated by road, air, rail, and waterways. The vast majority of passenger travel occurs by automobile for shorter distances, and airplane for longer distances. In descending order, most cargoes travel by railroad, truck, pipeline, or boat; air shipping is typically used only for perishables and premium express shipments.
The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, doing business as Amtrak, is a passenger railroad service that provides medium- and long-distance intercity service in the contiguous United States and to nine Canadian cities.
The Staggers Rail Act of 1980 is a United States federal law that deregulated the American railroad industry to a significant extent, and it replaced the regulatory structure that had existed since the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887.
The Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976, Pub.L. 94–210, S. 2718, 90 Stat. 31, enacted February 5, 1976, often called the "4R Act," is a United States federal law that established the basic outlines of regulatory reform in the railroad industry and provided transitional operating funds following the 1970 bankruptcy of Penn Central Transportation Company. The law approved the "Final System Plan" for the newly created Conrail and authorized acquisition of Northeast Corridor tracks and facilities by Amtrak.
The Northeast Corridor (NEC) is an electrified railroad line in the Northeast megalopolis of the United States. Owned primarily by Amtrak, it runs from Boston through Providence, New Haven, New York City, Philadelphia through Wilmington, and Baltimore to Washington, D.C. The NEC closely parallels Interstate 95 for most of its length, and is the busiest passenger rail line in the United States by ridership and service frequency as of 2013. The NEC carries more than 2,200 trains daily. Branches to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Springfield, Massachusetts, and various points in Virginia are not considered part of the Northeast Corridor, despite frequent service from routes that run largely on the corridor.
The Safety Appliance Act is a United States federal law that made air brakes and automatic couplers mandatory on all trains in the United States. It was enacted on March 2, 1893, and took effect in 1900, after a seven-year grace period. The act is credited with a sharp drop in accidents on American railroads in the early 20th century.
The Red Line is a rapid transit line of the Washington Metro system, consisting of 27 stations in Montgomery County, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., in the United States. It is a primary line through downtown Washington and the oldest, busiest, and longest line in the system. It forms a long, narrow "U", capped by its terminal stations at Shady Grove and Glenmont.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, commonly referred to as Metro, is a tri-jurisdictional government agency that operates transit service in the Washington metropolitan area. WMATA was created by the United States Congress as an interstate compact between the District of Columbia, the State of Maryland, and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Plans for high-speed rail in the United States date back to the High Speed Ground Transportation Act of 1965. Various state and federal proposals have followed. Despite being one of the world's first countries to get high-speed trains, it failed to spread. Definitions of what constitutes high-speed rail vary, including a range of speeds over 110 miles per hour (180 km/h) and dedicated rail lines. Inter-city rail in the United States with top speeds of 90 miles per hour (140 km/h) or more but below 125 mph (201 km/h) is sometimes referred to as higher-speed rail.
Rail speed limits in the United States are regulated by the Federal Railroad Administration. Railroads also implement their own limits and enforce speed limits. Speed restrictions are based on a number of factors including curvature, signaling, track condition, the physical condition of a train, and the presence of grade crossings. Like road speed limits in the United States, speed limits for rail tracks and the trains that run on them use miles per hour (mph).
Dark territory is a term used in the North American railroad industry to describe a section of running track not controlled by signals. Train movements in dark territory were previously handled by timetable and train order operation, but since the widespread adoption of two way radio communications these have been replaced by track warrants and direct traffic control, with train dispatchers managing train movements directly. Today most dark territory consists of lightly used secondary branch lines and industrial tracks with speeds ranging between 25 miles per hour (40 km/h) and 40 miles per hour (64 km/h); however, there do exist a small minority of main lines that fall into the category.
The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is an agency of the government of the District of Columbia which manages and maintains publicly owned transportation infrastructure in the District of Columbia. DDOT is the lead agency with authority over the planning, design, construction, and maintenance of alleys, bridges, sidewalks, streets, street lights, and traffic signals in the District of Columbia.
The Michigan Line, sometimes known as the Chicago–Detroit Line, is a railroad corridor that runs from Porter, Indiana, to Dearborn, Michigan. It carries Amtrak's Blue Water and Wolverine services, as well as the occasional local and/or unit train operated by Norfolk Southern.
On February 16, 1996, a MARC commuter train collided with Amtrak's Capitol Limited passenger train in Silver Spring, Maryland, killing three crew and eight passengers on the MARC train; a further eleven passengers on the same train and fifteen passengers and crew on the Capitol Limited were injured.
On the morning of December 1, 2013, a Metro-North Railroad Hudson Line passenger train derailed near the Spuyten Duyvil station in the New York City borough of the Bronx. Four of about 115 passengers were killed and another 61 injured; the accident caused $9 million worth of damage. It was the deadliest train accident within New York City since a 1991 subway derailment in lower Manhattan, and the first accident in Metro-North's history to result in passenger fatalities.
On May 12, 2015, an Amtrak Northeast Regional train from Washington, D.C. bound for New York City derailed and wrecked on the Northeast Corridor in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Of 238 passengers and 5 crew on board, 8 were killed and over 200 injured, 11 critically. The train was traveling at 102 mph (164 km/h) in a 50 mph (80 km/h) zone of curved tracks when it derailed.