There's no excuse for U.S. failure to implement Positive Train Control considering what's been accomplished in other countries.
The Baltimore Sun points out that we lack firm deadlines, radio spectrum and standardized equipment to implement Positive Train Control (“Rail safety deserves to be a higher priority,” Jan. 3). It may be of interest for The Sun to research this further and report on how other countries have managed to run high speed trains with similar automated braking technology. Our European neighbors have these systems in place across international boundaries. They did this by specifying equipment and leveraging existing radio spectrum such as the wireless telephone network.
Readers may have heard the acronym “GSM” that names the standard for wireless networks used in Europe. Many may not know that this same standard dominates the U.S. today, after years of evolving networks that caused us to purchase new phones as things changed. Ultimately, we caught up to our European brethren after the miracle of the market cost us lost of money and time.
The lessons here are that standards and regulation are not evil — and a Positive Train Control solution exists. Only action from Congress can make it happen. Congress can specify the European standard, create rules for wireless network access and mandate a deadline. Done.
This won’t happen, of course, because ideology trumps public safety in the modern political environment.