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Booker pushes for NJ Transit safety program extension

Glenn Townes | 10/27/2015, 11:07 a.m.
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and Senate President Stephen Sweeney, last week, amped up efforts to expeditiously implement a safety ...
Cory Booker

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and Senate President Stephen Sweeney, last week, amped up efforts to expeditiously implement a safety system on New Jersey Transit trains that, among other things, would shut down a train that was speeding or disobeys a signal—the push comes in the wake of several highly publicized and deadly train derailments in the past several months.

New Jersey Transit authorities are on an impending deadline by state legislators to install the Positive Train Control system—or PTC by the end of the year. Under existing guidelines, railroads and individual employees operating on systems without PTC after Dec 31 could face stiff fines and other penalties. A funding authorization law that expanded financing for building and repair initiatives for rail carrier expired in 2013.

Booker is heading a list of at least six other Democrats asking the government to immediately extend the looming deadline for a three year extension. In May, at the urging of Booker and other politicos, executives from Amtrak and other travel industry officials spoke in front of the Subcommittee for Transportation in Washington to advocate legislation that overhauls the heavily traveled New York, New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania railroad corridor. Booker said age, deterioration and remnant of Superstorm Sandy have badly damaged the railway between Newark, New York and Philadelphia. Federal safety experts have repeatedly said a full PTC safety implementation program would have most likely prevented the May 12 derailment disaster that killed eight people and injured dozens in Philadelphia.