Amtrak May Suspend Service From Poughkeepsie Over Safety Concerns
Hudson Valley commuters may soon have one less option when traveling to New York City.
In a shocking statement, Amtrak says that they could suspend service between Poughkeepsie and New York City if important safety deadlines aren't met. And it doesn't look like those safety upgrades are anywhere near on schedule.
The Albany Times Union reports that Metro North will likely fail to meet their January deadline to install important safety upgrades. Positive train control is a system that prevents operator error which can lead to derailments and collisions. Congress has mandated that Metro North needs to have it completely installed by the end of the year.
This technology is hardly new. Positive train control was first conceived in the 1970s and by 1990 it was uniformity agreed that the system was necessary on all commuter rails to avoid major accidents. In 2008 Congress finally passed legislation that the technology needed to be installed by 2015. That date was later changed to 2018, but Metro North is still far behind, with only 65 percent of the upgrades completed. That's not a good sign.
It's widely believed that positive train control would have prevented the tragic Metro North accident in 2013. But five years later the technology is still not in place.
If Metro North is not in compliance by the end of the year Amtrak has announced that they will no longer use the tracks between Poughkeepsie and New York City; basically ending their service in the Hudson Valley. This would be a major blow to commuters, especially those who live north of Poughkeepsie, who's only way to get to Manhattan is by traveling on Amtrak.
Senator Chuck Shumer said that concern over Metro North's lack of progress with positive train control is "alarming." The Senator helped Metro North secure a low-cost loan of $1 billion to get the system up and running on time.
Metro North says they are confident they will meet the deadline, although rail travel experts seem to differ in opinion. If the deadline is not met, Metro North could file for an extension, but Amtrak would still refuse to use the rails until they are up to code.
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