Noting similarities between a fatal weekend commuter train derailment in New York and an accident in California that killed 25 people five years ago, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said Thursday that the nation's rail operators must install a collision avoidance system by the end of 2015.
"Sunday's crash was preventable," Feinstein wrote Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.
Feinstein wrote that the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 requires railroads to install the system, called Positive Train Control, which would automatically stop a train if the engineer fails to obey a signal or exceeds the posted speed.
Four rail systems — Metrolink, Amtrak, Alaska Railroad and BNSF — will meet the law's 2015 deadline. Other railroads have lobbied Congress for a five-year delay, something Feinstein opposes.
"Positive Train Control will save lives when it is deployed, and every day of delay leaves in place a 19th century signaling system dependent entirely on the attention of each train's lone engineer," she wrote Rockefeller.
Feinstein wrote the rail safety-improvement bill after a Metrolink commuter train collided head-on with a Union Pacific freight train in Chatsworth, Calif., in 2008. Two-dozen passengers and the engineer died.
A National Transportation Safety Board investigation found that the train's lone engineer had been texting and may have missed a red signal.
Four people died Sunday when a Metro-North train jumped the tracks on a sharp curve in the Bronx. The NTSB has already determined that the train hit the 30 mph curve at 82 mph.
PHOTO: A Metro-North passenger train lays on it's side after derailing in the Bronx borough of New York, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013. The train derailed on a curved section of track in the Bronx on Sunday morning, coming to rest just inches from the water and causing multiple fatalities and dozens of injuries, authorities said. Associated Press/Mark Lennihan