FairWarining Investigates

As Rail Tragedies Fade From Memory, Resistance to Safety Rule Gains Steam

Aftermath of Chatsworth rail disaster, Sept. 12, 2008. (Kelly B. Huston)

Less than four years after a California train disaster spurred passage of major safety legislation, railroad companies are pushing hard to relax the law’s chief provision.

They have won over key Republicans, and extracted a major concession from the Obama administration, in their bid to scale back and delay a system to prevent crashes such as the head-on collision that caused 25 deaths and 135 injuries in Chatsworth, Calif.

This story was written and reported by Justine Sharrock, Laurie Udesky, and Stuart Silverstein.

The Rail Safety Improvement Act, passed in late 2008 soon after the Chatsworth disaster, mandated the $13 billion project and stuck railroad companies with nearly all of the cost. The law calls for installation of a technology known as Positive Train Control, or PTC, that automatically puts the brakes on trains about to collide or derail.

Railroads are required to install PTC by the end of 2015 on an estimated 70,000 miles of track used by trains carrying passengers or extremely hazardous materials such as chlorine.

The technology’s champions include the National Transportation Safety Board, an independent advisory and investigative agency. It has advocated PTC for more than two decades to prevent accidents resulting from human error, the main cause of rail crashes.

Investigators with the agency have identified 21 train wrecks since late 2001 that, they say, would have been averted by PTC. In all, the accidents caused 53 deaths and nearly 1,000 injuries.

“PTC can prevent these human errors from causing collisions, hazmat releases, passengers killed and injured, and train crews being killed,” said Steven Ditmeyer, a former rail industry executive and federal official who now teaches in Michigan State University’s railway management program.

Serious train crashes, he said, “are very rare events, but they still occur.”

PTC supporters such as Paul Hedlund, a lawyer for many families of Chatsworth victims, say they are appalled by efforts to relax the mandate. It’s a “scary step backwards,” Hedlund said, calling existing protections “horribly archaic.”

Since 2008, he added, “We haven’t had another crash of the magnitude of Chatsworth that would be affected by this but we are going to.”

But the railroad industry and its allies, arguing that the project is unaffordable, have put up stiff resistance. They also maintain that the technology still needs to be refined, even though Amtrak already operates a similar system from Boston to Washington, D.C. (Story continues below.)

PTC critics have argued for delaying the installation deadline by three years, exempting as much as 20 percent of the track and allowing railroads to use other safety systems that might be cheaper, but also less effective.

The industry is bolstered by a political climate that is hostile to federal dictates, a factor behind the executive order President Obama issued early last year to streamline regulations. They have extra leverage because federal agencies are divided on the merits of the PTC mandate.

PTC opponents also are drawing ammunition from a 2010 report by the Government Accountability Office. The GAO assessment didn’t address PTC’s effectiveness but said technological hurdles could delay completion of the project beyond the 2015 deadline.

“What you hear from all the railroad companies is that everyone supports PTC in theory, but the realities of how difficult it is financially and technologically to install [mean] it can’t happen by 2015,” said Matt Ginsberg, director of operations for the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association, which includes contractors that work on PTC installation.

The industry’s strategy, he added, is that “instead of an outright repeal, they will slowly chip away at it, making small little tweaks that will make a big change overall in the effect of the rule.”

Leading the resistance are the Association of American Railroads, which represents freight haulers and Amtrak, along with the American Public Transportation Association, which represents commuter rail systems. They have called PTC the biggest federal mandate the industry has faced in more than a century, and say they anticipated that the government would step up its financial support.

To deliver their message on PTC and other issues, railroad interests spend heavily on lobbying. According to the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the railroad industry poured $73.4 million into lobbying in 2009 and 2010, and another $8.75 million in the first quarter of 2011.

The industry also has retained dozens of lobbyists, including the firm of former Senate powerhouses John Breaux, D-La., and Trent Lott, R.-Miss.

Meanwhile, as political currents have shifted and PTC has fallen out of the spotlight, the technology has fewer forceful advocates.

Former U.S. Rep. James L. Oberstar, a Minnesota Democrat who led the push for PTC in the House and who argued for it since the 1990s, was voted out of office in 2010, when Republicans took control of the lower chamber.

January 2005 rail crash in Graniteville, S.C., that killed nine people and caused the evacuation of 5,400. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The Democrat who perhaps was most pivotal in getting the rail safety act through Congress and signed into law was Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California. Days after the Chatsworth crash in September 2008, she said the failure to install PTC would amount to “criminal negligence.”

Today, she still favors PTC but no longer is a leader on the issue and is not a member of the panel with jurisdiction over railroads, the Commerce Committee. Feinstein’s office quoted the senator as saying that she has urged colleagues to maintain the current deadline.

PTC systems include GPS and wireless communications technology and central control centers. They can monitor trains and stop them if they enter the wrong track or are about to run a red light.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, one of the accidents that PTC would have prevented was the freight train-commuter train collision in Chatsworth. The NTSB investigation blamed the accident on an engineer on the commuter train who ran a red light while text-messaging on a cellphone. (Metrolink, the rail system that operates the Chatsworth commuter line, hopes to finish installing its PTC system by mid-2013.)

The NTSB said the January 2005 rail crash in Graniteville, S.C., that killed nine people and injured 554 also would have been prevented by PTC. The crash punctured a chlorine tank car, releasing a toxic, greenish cloud that led to the evacuation of about 5,400 residents.

However, the agency responsible for enforcing the deadline has expressed ambivalence about PTC. The Transportation Department’s Federal Railroad Administration concedes that PTC increases safety. But the agency says PTC would save only about four or five lives a year, not nearly enough to justify the cost – though the agency analysis was completed in 2005, before the Chatsworth disaster.

PTC advocates say the agency’s analysis ignores the enormous business benefits that the technology could provide, not only by preventing accidents but by coordinating train traffic more efficiently and cutting shipping times.

Still, after the Transportation Department spelled out its rules for enforcing the PTC law, it was sued in November 2010 by the Association of American Railroads. The industry group accused the agency of issuing “a regulation that imposes a staggering and unjustified burden” that went beyond the intent of Congress.

Among other grievances, the industry said federal officials wrongly required railroads to put PTC on track that by 2015 will no longer be used to haul chlorine or other extremely hazardous materials.

The Transportation Department, to settle the litigation, offered to reduce the amount of track required to have PTC. The proposal, expected to be adopted in some form this spring, would remove 7,000 to 14,000 miles of track from the mandate, a cut of about 10 percent to 20 percent.

In an Aug. 23 announcement, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood characterized the move as being in line with the Obama administration’s initiative to streamline regulation.

NTSB officials, however, say the proposal also could have a pernicious effect. They say it could crimp regulators’ flexibility to require PTC on troublesome track not specifically designated by the statute.

For instance, regulators can insist on PTC when they are concerned about the safety of track where freight trains haul, say, ethanol – a dangerous material, but not one of the extreme hazards specified in the law. But the head of the NTSB, Deborah Hersman, said her agency is concerned that the “ability to identify other high-risk corridors will be hampered” because, under the proposed change, the railroads no longer would have to provide the government with as much risk data.

Separately, House Republicans have advocated relaxing the PTC requirements. One of the leaders is U.S. Rep. John Mica of Florida, chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

According to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Mica is one of the biggest recipients of railroad industry campaign contributions, with $182,298 since 2008.

He is working on a long-term surface transportation authorization bill that is regarded as a likely legislative vehicle for key breaks sought by the railroads. Lawmakers are expected to resume working in earnest on the authorization bill by the beginning of February.

Mica has voiced support for extending the PTC deadline by three years and allowing trains to use so-called non-technological safety systems.

Frank Kohler, severely injured in the Chatsworth train wreck.

Such systems, unlike PTC, can’t automatically counter human error, which the Transportation Department says causes 40 percent of train accidents. Mica has described his goal as to “protect against overly-burdensome regulations and red tape.”

Another vocal critic of PTC is U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the railroads subcommittee.

According to The Center for Responsive Politics, railroads were the top-contributing industry to his 2008 and 2010 election campaigns. Shuster has received $165,800 in campaign contributions from railroad interests since 2008.

He has criticized the PTC mandate ever since it was adopted. At a March hearing, Shuster advocated extending the deadline beyond 2015 and reducing the amount of track covered, while calling the existing requirements “regulatory overreach.”

Talk of accommodating the industry, however, infuriates union leaders. “It’s hard for me to believe that anyone can go to Congress and say with a straight face that seven years after the bill passed is ‘not enough time for us to do this,’’’ said James Stem, legislative director of the United Transportation Union. “But that’s what’s going on.”

It’s also distressing to crash victims such as Frank Kohler.

Kohler was one of those injured in the Chatsworth disaster. He woke up after the collision lying on the ground with his head split open; he suffered a brain injury that, Kohler says, causes him to get confused and has ended his 36-year career as an emergency responder and registered nurse.

If PTC has been in place three years ago, Kohler said, he would have arrived home safely. Kohler added, “I would still have my professional life intact and I would be a productive member of society.”

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About the author

Stuart Silverstein is assistant editor at FairWarning.

18 comments to “As Rail Tragedies Fade From Memory, Resistance to Safety Rule Gains Steam”

  1. Barbara Kloster

    You have not heard from me in a long time but that doesn’t mean I have gone away. Congress,the Senate, Metrolink and Veolia are under the impression that if they string us along long enough, we will give up. That will never happen. We are still trying for meetings with the politicians that we voted in but they keep putting us on the back burner. Metrolink promised to help us meet with Senator Feinstein but off course, they keep putting us off.
    It will be five years on September 12, 2013 and we are going to have a Memorial and unveiling of a plaque at the Moorpark Station on High Street. Keith Millhouse, a board member of Metrolink and a Moorpark City Councilman, has been instrumental in helping us get this accomplished. It is open to the public and the more people that come will be honoring all the victims, that we call the forgotten ones. The time will be at 4:40 p.m. at the station.
    By the way, Have you all been keeping track of all the recent rail crashes, here and in Foreign Countries. There is no cap in Foreign Countries, just here, in the supposedly greatest Nation of the World.

  2. Barbara Kloster

    Just a note to bring those interested, up to date on Veolia and the 2008 Metrolink crash.
    The L.A. City Council signed a contract with Veolia to operate the DASH Bus line even tho Veolia admitted no liability to the Metrolink tragedy. The Council did not do their homework and supposedly are now looking into it with the Department of Transportation. The head of the Dept. of Trans. is also on the SCRRA Board. What a co-incidence if you believe in co-incidences. Four of us went to a City Council meeting in Mid Oct., 2012 in hopes of stopping the contract which went into effect, Nov.1, 2012. Whether we were too late is what we are waiting to find out. It is now mid Jan. and we have heard nothing. We will not go away and we are still fighting to get justice for the victims. They have been named “The Forgotten Ones”, but we are still doing everything in our power to remind people about 125 victms whose lives and those of their families have been changed forever.

  3. Cal Chem

    WARNING: FIRST RESPONDERS’ use of THE CHLORINE INSTITUTE “C” KIT may cause the catastrophic failure of a chlorine tank car, instantly creating a toxic gas plume with a distance of not less than seven miles. The first mile will have chlorine concentrations of 1,000 ppm, causing death after one or two breaths with no opportunity for escape. To learn more, see PETITION C KIT, click on “First Responder Warnings.”

  4. Rudy Caparros

    • Haz Mat Experts petition Dow Chemical Company for safe rail tank cars transporting gas chlorine. Secondary containment is a necessary improvement that must be implemented.
    See– PETITION C KIT for Haz Mat Expert comments.

  5. Barbara Kloster

    If you all have been following the news then you have already heard this. i am going to tell you anyway. Veoliatrans is not only for sale but so is Veoliawaterandwaste management divisions. Secret bidders for the two divisions that have documentation against them. I wonder if there will be disclosure. The other news is that the President of Metrolink, John Fenton, has resigned and taken another position in Boca Raton, Fa. He turned Metrolink around and did such a good job that all the railways want him. I will keep you posted on further happenings in Congress, Veolia and Metrolink.

  6. Barbara Kloster

    I don’t know if you are aware of it or not but a case was on TV today about a tour boat Captain who was texting and the tour boat was run over by a barge. He pled guilty and his case is going to court now. Two died and three dozen were injured. No cap was mentioned and it only took two years to go to court. He was charged with manslaughter and is in jail.
    Metrolink 111 was a travesty of justice. The victims signed a letter stating they were satisfied with the cap so it would hurry things along. They still waited three years for their judgements and because of costs incurred, some judgements were very low and some victims received nothing.
    Thank you Veolia Transportation, Metrolink and especially Congress, who could have made things better for all the victims. Those that lived will carry not only carry scars from their injuries but the trauma will never go away.
    This is an election year. Make sure that whoever you vote for is running for the right reasons. That is to represent their constituents with whatever power they may have.
    Go to their meetings and ask them questions on how they plan to represent you.

  7. Alan Kandel

    I hear what Barbara is saying loudly and clearly.

    As it relates, there is a very thorough article covering positive train control at CNBC (http://www.cnbc.com/id/46806223) written by Alec Foege.

    “Digital Rail Crash-Avoidance System Runs Into Trouble,” a “Special to CNBC.com” report, is a must read, but troubling are the concluding seven paragraphs in the report.

    Here is what was communicated from that report:

    “Another issue may be potential the limitations of the technology itself.

    “Meteorcomm’s president, Robert Turnbull, emphasizes that his company’s radio units for the Metrolink project won’t be ‘safety critical,’ meaning the trains won’t rely on its transmitters to stop trains on a collision course.

    “That’s because digital wireless signals can be disrupted. They are less reliable than the layers of mechanical failsafe measures the railroads have developed over decades, Turnbull says.

    “Such an acknowledgement appears to undercut the Metrolink project’s whiz-bang factor, but Turnbull disagrees.

    “’You don’t want to take too many risks at one time,’ when people’s lives are at stake, he says. ‘I think the benefits we offer are incremental.’

    “Metrolink’s Fenton is confident that the benefits of the new collision system will far outweigh any lingering concerns, since fatal crashes are constant worry in an industry that racks up hundreds of red-signal violations every year.

    “’Once we have that system in place’ he says, ‘a lot of the day-to-day pressures go away.’”

  8. Barbara Kloster

    Why am I not surprised at the way the House has so conveniently forgotten the horror of Metrolink 111’s crash. Our Congress is in the pockets of the railroad industry that is against PTC. We voted these people in to take care of their constituents but that is a lost cause. Congress is as much a BULLY as Veolia/Connex Transportation. None of them care about the victims and what their lives have been like since this tragedy. None of them walk in our shoes. NO! They walk around with padded pockets and smiles on their faces because they think they have won. We put these people in power and now it is up to us, the taxpayers, that we won’t allow what they are doing, anymore. If I had the power to get an audience before the House, they would never get me off the floor until I turned them in the right direction.. We are nothing but numbers to them because it is almost imposible to get them to respond to us. The only one on our side was Elton Gallegly and he is stepping down. I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t want to be associated with them either.
    For all of you out there who read FairWarning, please help us get the word out that Metrolink 111 crash will never fade from our minds or from the minds of family, friends and neighbors. Mark my words, there will be another crash within the next five years, that will affect all of you, the way it has affected all of us.
    In the future, ask the candidates who run for Congress in your District, how they feel about raising the cap for any further catastrophies in the rail industry.

    This whole article has made me sick of our Government which I have always respected. Not anymore.

  9. Special Interests Are Trying to Gut Law Mandating Improved Railroad Safety,” Tom DeVoto Cautions | St. Louis Personal Injury Attorney – Thomas DeVoto

    […] to a report on FairWarning.org — a website that reports news on safety, health and corporate conduct—the railroad industry has […]

  10. Loren Fox

    I am more than a bit disturbed that Amtrak thought it prudent to hire a former Metrolink engineer who was fired 2 weeks after the Chatsworth accident, fired for using a cell phone while on duty, after multiple violations of drug and alcohol policy with both Amtrak and Metrolink.

  11. Alan Kandel

    Clarification to previous post, last paragraph:

    According to information in the National Transportation Safety Board’s Railroad Accident Report RAR-10/01, it is stated: “Metrolink operating rules require that engineers announce over the radio the aspects or indications of all wayside signals the train encounters. For an announcement of any signal more restrictive than green (clear), the conductor must repeat back the announcement over the radio.”

    I stand corrected.

  12. Alan Kandel


    I understand your points completely. There is apparently indisputable evidence indicating Metrolink locomotive engineer Robert Sanchez was texting up to 22 seconds before impact. And the texting may have been a main contributing factor into the cause of this horrific collision. But it may not have been the only factor.

    Regarding one’s ability to view signal aspects (colors) has to do with line-sight distances involved and the atmospheric conditions present (is there fog, rain, dust, sunlight, etc. to obstruct one’s view of signal colors or are conditions clear?). If the terrain is open and relatively flat, it is possible signal colors can be seen over several miles’ distance.

    As for stopped (or standing) trains, it is my understanding operating rules stipulate that before said trains can move forward, two short blasts on the trains’ horns are required to give those standing in relative close proximity notification or warning that said trains are about to move forward. Three short blasts on said trains’ horns give required notification that said trains are about to move backward. Before any movement of said trains occur, forward or backward from a stopped position, it seems to me it would be incumbent upon a locomotive engineer at the controls of a locomotive to look out of the locomotive windows to ascertain as best as is humanly possible that it is safe to guide such train either forward or backward, depending on what the case may be. That would mean ascertaining that there are no people potentially putting themselves in harms way, as in, say, for instance, a person attempting to cross the tracks immediately in front of a train about to move forward. If a signal – the purpose of which is to govern train movements in such a territory where signals for such are in use – is also present and in view, the presumption is a locomotive engineer in carrying out his or her duties in proper fashion, would likewise be looking out said locomotive windows to observe the color (or position of a signal in the case of position light signals) of such a signal before proceeding.

    Finally, from what I have read, locomotive engineers do not call out green signals. Maybe that process needs to change – in other words announcing and then confirming signal aspects by the engineer and conductor, respectively, regardless of color (or position) of the signal aspect in observance. By doing so, the presumption is any uncertainty that way would be eliminated. But, that really isn’t for me to say.

    Thank you for taking the time to respond.

  13. Barbara Kloster

    False green signals were never a consideration to me and I will explain why. According to all the reports I have read, Sanchez was texting seconds before the crash. This is according to his cell phone records. He wouldn’t have seen the lights no matter what color they were. There were also many witnesses in the third car where the conductor, also an employee of Veolia, was standing and never heard him call out the signals. I find it hard to believe that you can clearly see a mile away if you are standing on the platform. The engineer can see because his cab is so much further ahead than the passenger cars and the loading platform. Texting a young boy about driving the train that night was all that was on Sanchez’s mind.

    This is why I am so for Metrolink implementing the installation of the PTC. By the time it is installed, it should almost be perfect. Congress is against it because certain Congressmen are being backed by the railroad unions who do not want to help finance this plan. Congress has turned into a partisan group, with each group looking for power instead of looking out for their constituents.

    Read the NTSB report again and see for yourself that no matter how it is worded, it comes down to one fact. Sept.12, 2008 was human error to the point of outright negligence. Whether Veolia admits to knowing or not knowing about the texting beforehand, texting caused the most horrific crash in railroad history and safety measures must be taken,

    Thank you for caring enough to read my opinion and to express yours.

  14. Alan Kandel


    I have written about Positive Train Control (PTC) and have been pushing for PTC system implementation since 1994. I worked in the area of railway signaling and am now retired.

    Would I prefer that PTC be installed and used nationwide by the December 31, 2015 deadline? I can assure you I would. Does PTC have to be 100 percent effective? It does. Anything short of just that to me would be unacceptable.

    As for Sept. 12, ’08 Metrolink/UP train-to-train collision, in considering all the facts surrounding that particular circumstance, including said eyewitness testimony, does there not exist the possibility that there could have been an anomaly in the signal system and/or the Topanga Control Point signal in question the day of the collision? Until the determination is rendered the that a “false clear” can be definitively ruled out, in looking at the facts, I cannot rule out that possibility – even as rare an event such as a “false clear” may be. In the Los Angeles Times article I referenced in my comment above, it was reported that:

    “William Keppen, a former locomotive engineer and Maryland-based railroad consultant, said that false track signals can occur but that they are exceedingly rare. In 13 years as an engineer, he said he encountered false green signals twice, but did not proceed because he knew another train was on the tracks in front of him.

    “He noted that in the Sept. 12 Metrolink crash, the NTSB reported that the switch near the final signal was set so the freight train could move off the main track in front of the stopped Metrolink train. Normally, the switch and the track signals are coordinated, he said, which would also suggest Sanchez had a red light.”

    Three questions I have are: Were those “false green” signals reported? What was the underlying cause or causes resulting in those signals in question displaying a “false green”? And what was done to remedy the situation to see to it that such a condition did not happen again? In my opinion, it would have been extremely helpful if answers to those questions had been provided in the Times story in question.

  15. Barbara Kloster

    I am just curious if Alan is in the employ of Veolia/Connex. He is saying exactly what they said in their denial of responsibility. Robert Sanchez, the engineer, was employed and paid by Veolia/Connex. The NTSB was very carefull in coming to their conclusions about this horrific crash. This was not an accident, this was manslaughter. It was preventable. This comment is being made by the mother of one of the most severely injured that lived.

  16. Alan Kandel

    Where it is stated: “The NTSB investigation blamed the accident on an engineer on the commuter train who ran a red light while text-messaging on a cellphone,” This is not quite the wording used by the National Transportation Safety Board in its Railroad Accident Report in question (See: http://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/summary/RAR1001.htm) and therefore could be misleading. The exact wording the NTSB used is:

    “The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the September 12, 2008, collision of a Metrolink commuter train and a Union Pacific freight train was the failure of the Metrolink engineer to observe and appropriately respond to the red signal aspect at Control Point Topanga because he was engaged in prohibited use of a wireless device, specifically text messaging, that distracted him from his duties.”

    Although this finding is not definitive, it would, however, tend to suggest negligence on the part of the Metrolink engineer in question, which may or may not have actually been the case.

    As it may be of significance in terms of the overall investigation into this horrific collision, there remains the testimony of on-site eyewitnesses who claimed the Topanga Control Point signal aspect in question was green (a “proceed ahead” indication), eyewitnesses who apparently had an unobstructed view of the control point signal in question.

    “Three observers who say they were at the Chatsworth Metrolink station before last month’s deadly train crash have asserted in interviews that a final, crucial railroad signal was green as the commuter line’s engineer headed toward the collision point.” This information was published in the Los Angeles Times article: “Witnesses say light was green just before Metrolink train crashed.” (http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-traincrash4-2008oct04,0,1252160.story)

    And then there is this from a Los Angeles Daily News account. (http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_14243143):

    “The [NTSB] report challenged the testimony of eyewitnesses who claimed the light was green at the time of the collision. Post-accident testing and other research found the witnesses could not have reliably seen the light because it was more than a mile away, and because of lighting conditions.”

    Despite such eyewitness testimony, the NTSB findings are what they are – anything but definitive. Should this raise a red flag?


    “If the track signal was green, it would raise the possibility that a combination of factors were at work in the deadliest train crash in modern California history. NTSB investigators said earlier this week that the engineer had sent and received cellphone text messages about the time of the crash,” Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Rich Connell and Robert J. Lopez had written in the L.A. Times story. “But could he also have received a false signal that the track ahead was clear?”

    Had the signal aspect in question actually been green, this raises into question the possibility that a “false clear” aspect was displayed, which would suggest an anomaly in the operation of that signal – or in the operation of the signal system itself.

    So, maybe it will never be known definitively what the cause of that Sept. 12, 2008 head-on really was attributed to.

    Furthermore, and from the story above, there is this statement: “The law calls for installation of a technology known as Positive Train Control, or PTC, that automatically puts the brakes on trains about to collide or derail.”

    It should be made clear that Positive Train Control systems cannot prevent all train derailments from occurring. It is my understanding that, in addition to possessing a collision-avoidance component, what the technology can also do is intervene to prevent overspeed situations thus reducing significantly the possibility that a derailment would occur in this regard.

  17. paul stagnoli

    here is another case of large corporations getting their way and resisting the mandate of the goverment and the american people. by using lobbests and paying off senators and house reps.the railroad industry is using their power to delay installing safety devices to prevent train crashes. their statment the small loss of lives don’t justify the cost of installing the needed equipment at this time.

  18. roger baxter

    I thunk the railroads+whashington need to take ther heads out of the sand . And face reaility! PLeses help pase this safty ishue. pleces!

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