Local Railroads May Not Meet New Safety Technology Deadline

Local Railroads May Not Meet New Safety Technology Deadline

Congress has mandated that all railroads put in new safety technology by the end of the year. Union Pacific officials say the basin doesn't look like they're going to meet that deadline.

"We're working with the government regulators to explain to them the difficulty in meeting the deadline. We're hoping to get an extension on those deadlines," said Jeff DeGraff with Union Pacific.

It's called Positive Train Control, also referred to as PTC. It's an advanced system of technology that's designed to automatically stop a train before accidents.

"It's something that is taking some time to implement and roll out because it's a large scale process. We're still some time away from it," said DeGraff.

If railroads do not have PTC installed by December 31st of this year, Union Pacific could face federal fines. They say they've already set aside quite a large investment.

"Union pacific is estimating that it will invest approximately $2.5 billion to implement this system on our network," said DeGraff.

A misconception is that this new safety technology will help prevent train collisions with vehicles and pedestrians, a rising problem here in the basin that law enforcement is working to bring awareness to.

"Our key deal is trying to protect people to save lives. We can't do that without the publics' involvement," said Gary Painter, the Midland County Sheriff.

"Even once the system is put in place we will still need to work with the general public and the communities that we travel through to prevent those types of accidents," said DeGraff.

Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter says with more people here in the basin, it's more important than ever to be cautious.

"The biggest prevention is people. People cannot drive around the barriers. When they are down, don't go around the barrier. Stay away from the track. Look both ways. That's always been the key thing is look both ways," said Painter.