Letter: Why is All Aboard Florida dodging crucial safety requirement?

Posted on March 5, 2016

By: Joseph Leinbach

Positive train control (PTC) is the 21st-century safety system required by the Federal Railroad Administration that automatically stops or slows trains that exceed speed limits or face other hazards.

The NTSB considers it vitally important to implement this technology now.

Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah Feingold has stated, "When we talk about PTC, we are really talking about saving lives."

TCPalm on Feb. 6 quoted an All Aboard Florida spokeswoman saying, "AAF has repeatedly stated that we will both fund and construct a comprehensive set of safety and operating improvements that will exceed all of the most stringent requirements and regulations set by the Federal Railroad Commission." How does AAF sidestep PTC?

AAF's sister company, Florida East Coast Railway, which owns the track and signal systems, stated in a FRA clarification filing on Nov. 20, 2014, "FECR is rated as a Class 2 railroad and is therefore not required to implement PTC until 2020."

AAF projects that it will have 3 million passengers per year in 2018 and 5 million in 2020. Without PTC, why would management ignore such a critically important safety feature? I don't know but it is reported that the cost of PTC exceeds $300 million.

It has been over six months since the FDFC approved the sale of $1.75 billion bonds for AAF. Last August Merrill Lynch expected to sell the issue within one month. Maybe some potential investors are also concerned about safety.

In some parts of the country they call the AAF/FECR maneuver the "Texas Two-Step."

Do AAF statements sound to you like today's presidential candidates? If so join the rally against AAF April 9 at Memorial Park in Stuart.

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