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Amtrak CEO's Safety Review Puts Vermont Rail Users On Guard

"The Vermonter" travels from its northernmost stop in St. Albans through New England to Washington, D.C.
Vermont Agency of Transportation
"The Vermonter" travels from its northernmost stop in St. Albans through New England to Washington, D.C.

Amtrak president and CEO Richard Anderson startled rail passengers and others who regularly use trains in Vermont when he said he "doubts" Amtrak would run trains on track that doesn't have a safety protocol known as PTC, or positive train control. Vermont is among the states that doesn't have PTC on its tracks.After fatal crashes on Amtrak lines in South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington since December, Anderson told a U.S. House subcomittee on transportation last month that having PTC could be the deciding factor for Amtrak service in the future.

"Amtrak continues to work on implementing many new specific safety measures, the most important is [positive train control]," Anderson said. "We are set to complete PTC installation on the tracks and equipment we own or control by December 31, 2018, the federal deadline. And for those instances where we will not have PTC, even after the 12/31 deadline (because it’s not required by statue), we have a question about whether we’re going to operate at all. And I doubt we will."

Vermont is among that states with a waiver from the Federal Railroad Administration for the requirement to install PTC. Anderson's comments nonetheless have alarmed rail passengers and transportation officials in states relying on that waiver for continued train service beyond the end of the year.

Dan Delabruere, Rail Program Director for the Vermont Agency of Transportation, joins Vermont Edition to discuss positive train control in Vermont, and the future of rail service in the state.

Broadcast on Tuesday, March 13, 2018 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

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