The invention of the railroad was a milestone in the history of transportation, and now a new benchmark has been achieved, as Virginia Railway Express implemented a new safety feature.
Positive Train Control, which is now operational on all VRE trains, keeps trains from running into each other or going too fast with an advanced GPS system.
In 2015, the federal government required 41 railroads across the country to implement the new technology.
However, as of December 2018, only four railroads out of those required were fully compliant.
VRE recently became the seventh railroad to fully activate the safety feature.
“Humans make mistakes and sometimes humans don’t do exactly what they’re supposed to on the trains. If they miss something, PTC will go in, take over and stop the train completely or slow it down,” Joe Swartz, chief of staff for VRE said.
In August 1969, a Connecticut train crash made history as a pair of passenger trains hit head-on, killing five people and injuring more than 30.
More recently, in May 2015, Amtrak’s Northwest Regional train traveled 100 miles-per-hour around a curve and killed eight people in Philadelphia.
“We have lots of systems in place already to make sure there are not accidents this is just another layer on top that will prevent the most catastrophic of accidents,” Swartz said.
Some passengers who ride the train often said they’re all for it.
“I feel comfortable with the new technology. I feel safer. If we have something in place to automatically slow the train down then of course I’m for it,” Janie Harvest said.
It’s like an extra safety step you know,” Ryan Ashman said.
Officials said VRE is the 12th largest commuter rail service in the U.S.