Despite a rash of deadly train crashes, the railroad industry’s allies in Congress are trying to push back the deadline for installing technology to prevent the most catastrophic types of collisions until at least 2020, half a century after accident investigators first called for such safety measures.
Four senators with industry ties recently introduced a bill to extend the deadline another five to seven years. Under a law enacted in 2008, the systems are supposed to be running by Dec. 31, 2015. Only a handful of railroads are expected to meet that deadline.
The National Transportation Safety Board has investigated 27 train crashes that took 63 lives, injured nearly 1,200 and caused millions of dollars in damage over the past decade. Officials say they could have been prevented had the safety system been in place. The NTSB first recommended advanced train control systems in 1970.
Close to home
According to the Federal Railroad Administration, there were 286 train accidents, rail-highway incidents and other incidents in Indiana in 2012. These accidents resulted in 26 fatalities and 140 non-fatal injuries.
A report from the Indiana Economic Digest ranked Indiana number four in the nation for train-vehicle collisions with 116 collisions and 17 fatalities in 2012.
As of June 30, 2013, there had been 132 train accidents in the state with 10 fatalities and 88 non-fatal injuries.
There were 16 train accidents in Elkhart County in 2012. These accidents resulted in 1 fatality and 9 non-fatal injuries.
As of June 30, 2013, there had been 10 train incidents in Elkhart County with one fatality and four non-fatal injuries.