CHICAGO (CBS) — The head of Metra’s board of directors has urged Congress to extend the deadline to install some costly safety equipment, or the commuter rail line and other railroads could be forced to come to a halt.
Metra Board Chariman Martin Oberman admitted it would be unthinkable for all railroad service to stop at the end of the year, but he insisted lawyers have told him that would have to happen if Congress doesn’t change the deadline for railroads to install positive train control systems.
“It’s never happened, and it would be a complete disaster on individual lives, and on the economy if we were not allowed to operate; but if they don’t change the law, we will not have any options. We won’t be legally able to operate,” he said.
PTC systems are designed to automatically stop trains to avoid high-speed collisions or derailments, but Oberman said no such system is fully functional.
Earlier this month, Metra CEO Don Orseno wrote a letter to the chair of the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, urging Congress to extend the Dec. 31 deadline for railroads to install PTC systems.