House Dems seek to boost funding for automated trains

House Dems seek to boost funding for automated trains
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House Democrats wanted increased funding for an automated train control system that could have prevented last week's deadly Amtrak crash included in a surface transportation bill being voted on Tuesday. 

Investigators have said the system, which is known as Positive Train Control, could have prevented the Amtrak crash because it would have detected that the train reached speeds of more than 100 mph before it derailed near Philadelphia. 

A spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Democrats were offering a motion to recommit on the road and transit measure that the House is voting on Tuesday that would boost the federal government's funding for the automated train control system to $750 million. 


"Americans deserve better infrastructure that puts safety first," Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammil said in a statement. "The Democratic Motion to Recommit would authorize resources to install the Positive Train Control program, which would have prevented the recent Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia by authorizing and providing $750 million for the Positive Train Control program."

The motion was voted down on a 182-241 vote before lawmakers in the House moved onto considering final passage of the broader highway funding extension.

The Amtrak crash has touched off a debate in Congress about whether the deadline for railroads to install automated PTC system should be extended until 2020, as some lawmakers have pushed to do.

Congress originally passed the mandate that railroads install the automated PTC system in the aftermath of a 2008 commuter rail crash in California, but railroad companies have argued that the 2015 deadline was not feasible to meet. 

While Congress debates about the impact of the Amtrak crash, railroads currently have until December to install the system. 

The rail industry has argued since the crash that it needs more money, not needs more money, not just more time, to install the automated PTC system.