Trains Set to Miss Important Safety Deadline

Trains present a unique issue to the safety of those in the Chicago area. While many utilize the CTA elevated trains, and others use Amtrak or Metra to commute longer distances, some avoid trains in their entirety and see them only from a distance. Yet regardless of your level of use, trains present an issue to your personal safety in the city.

When a train accident happens, it can involve a single train, multiple trains, a train and one or more cars, or even a train and a pedestrian. As a result, anyone – not only those who ride a train – can be the victim of a train incident in Illinois.

Recent years have seen terrifying and deadly train derailments and collisions including an Amtrak derailment last year that killed eight and injured more than 200 people. Faced with earlier accidents that were claiming lives, the U.S. Congress passed legislation in 2008 that required positive train control, or PTC, on all trains that operate on tracks which service passenger trains. As passenger trains often travel over leased tracks as opposed to tracks that they own outright, this means that a very high percentage of the nation’s tracks will fall under this new legislation.

The technology works by combining sensors on trains and correlating them with GPS signals which will monitor the location of all moving trains. If trains come too close to one another or pose a risk of a collision, the technology will work to slow or stop the trains to reduce or even the risk of a collision or a derailment.

The law regarding PTC originally required implementation of the technology by the end of 2015, but when it became clear that major carriers would not meet the deadline, Congress enacted an extension to comply until the end of 2018. However, even with this new extension, some of the largest train companies, including Canadian National Railway, CSX Transportation, and Norfolk Southern will not have the technology installed on time.

This leaves many to question whether they are safe absent the PTC technology and what steps carriers are taking to increase safety until the technology is working on all trains. The unfortunate truth is that those who ride on trains, those who cross train tracks in vehicles, and those who walk near tracks will continue to be at the mercy of those who operate the trains and who are in charge of their transit, whether on board a train or with remote control of its travel. And until all train collisions in Illinois are eliminated, people will continue to be hurt or killed in these crashes and the lives of countless people will be affected.

If you were a victim of a train accident in Chicago or if someone you love was hurt or killed in a crash, call the personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. today for a no-cost, no-obligation case consultation about your legal options and your rights. We have a licensed lawyer standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to take your call toll free at (855) 529-2442 or locally at (312) 924-7575 and we will keep everything discussed during the consultation confidential.

We have experience representing numerous personal injury victims and if you were hurt, we want to fight for you as well. Call us today to learn about your legal options following a train collision.

Prior Blog Entry:

One-Third of Pedestrian Accidents involve Hit-and-Run Drivers, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published February 1, 2016.


Big freight railroads won’t meet safety technology deadline, Tribune wire reports, Chicago Tribune, published February 3, 2016.

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