Rail lines will have positive train control by year’s end

Branch line commuters will start the new year on safer trains.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office announced on Dec. 19 that every passenger rail line in Connecticut will have positive train control (PTC) installed on their systems by Dec. 31, fulfilling a recently enacted requirement by the Federal Railroad Administration for every passenger rail line in the country to implement the safety measure by the end of the year.

This includes, a press release said, trains on the Danbury branch line.

PTC is a system designed to stop a train automatically before an accident occurs, including preventing train-to-train collisions, derailments caused by excessive train speed, movement of a train onto sections of track where maintenance work is taking place, and incidents when a track switch has been left in the wrong position.

“Tens of thousands of Connecticut residents depend on passenger rail service for their daily commutes, and they deserve to have a best-in-class, safe, and effective system,” Malloy said.   

Connecticut has three passenger rail lines. The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) owns the portion of the New Haven Line between New Haven and the New York state border, while Amtrak owns the Hartford Line between New Haven and Springfield, Mass., as well as Shore Line East between New Haven and New London.

On the New Haven Line, which also includes branches to New Canaan, Danbury, and Waterbury, CTDOT partnered with MTA Metro-North for the PTC installation.  Metro-North achieved a significant milestone over the summer, a press release said, implementing civil speed enforcement — a key component of PTC that prevents a train from traveling too fast around a curve or over a bridge.

PTC will also be in operation on each of the Amtrak-owned lines beginning Dec. 31.

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