Reps. Engel & Lowey Write to NTSB Chairman Pushing for Positive Train Control

Reps. Engel & Lowey Write to NTSB Chairman Pushing for Positive Train Control

Washington D.C.—Congressman Eliot Engel (NY-16) and Congresswoman Nita Lowey (NY-17) have written to National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Acting Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt urging him to do everything in his power to push for the prompt implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC).

Following a rash of train derailments in the northeast, including one in Rye just last week, it is clear that PTC is a necessity on our railways. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, PTC technology  is “capable of reliably and functionally preventing train-to-train collisions, over speed derailments, incursions into established work zone limits, and the movement of a train through a main line switch in the wrong position.” Congress passed legislation in 2008 requiring the implementation of PTC on railways in the northeast corridor, but the deadline for implementation has been pushed back to 2020.

Text of the letter to Chairman Sumwalt can be found below:

May 19, 2017

Acting Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt

National Transportation Safety Board

490 L’Enfant Plaza East, SW

Washington, DC 20594

Dear Chairman Sumwalt:

Last night, a Metro-North train derailed in Rye, NY, when five of the train’s 12 cars came off the tracks during rush hour. Thankfully, only minor injuries were reported. We are grateful for the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) rapid response to the scene and ongoing investigation into the causes of the derailment, and urge the NTSB to complete its investigation as soon as possible.

As you are aware, this is just one of the many unnecessary and dangerous train derailments that have occurred in the Lower Hudson Valley in recent years. While yesterday’s incident was minor compared with other horrifying accidents in recent years, we cannot afford a next time. It is critical that Positive Train Control (PTC) be expeditiously implemented. We both supported legislation mandating PTC implementation in 2008. It is disappointing that many of America’s passenger rail lines are still not utilizing this lifesaving technology, and we encourage you to do everything in your power to push for its prompt adoption. 

We appreciate your attention to this incident and your critical work to improve transportation safety in our region. Thank you for your attention to this matter and for the Board’s commitment to the investigation.


Rep. Eliot L. Engel

Rep. Nita Lowey