Railroad Safety Fanatics Mandate Wasteful PTC System

PTC means Positive Train Control and it is a perfect example of how socialism seeks to inject itself into American business even when liberals have no idea what they are saying or doing (which is always).

PTC is a very complex and expensive computerized tracking system being mandated for installation on all passenger trains and freight trains to seek to prevent two trains from colliding. PTC is designed to constantly monitor the location, speed and direction of trains. PTC was mandated by the government after a major crash in California in 2008 of a commuter passenger train with a freight train.

PTC is estimated to have a price tag of $15 billion to $20 billion for installation on the private-sector US freight railroads alone. In an industry with only $55 billion a year in total revenues this is hugely expensive. But to the socialists the cost does not matter. As usual. Because they are not paying it. Meanwhile passenger trains, which all get government subsidies, will have their PTC systems funded by the taxpayer.

There was a crash a few years back on the Washington, DC subway system, however, in which a Positive Train Control-type system failed. So if PTC is installed all over America, how do we know that it is going to produce the type of safety improvements that proponents claim? What if it does not work and we discover that the money has been wasted? After all, computers fail all the time and the PTC system is very complex and will surely have failures, perhaps even big failures. Just look at the failure of the Obamacare website, which is infinitely simpler than any PTC would be. Imagine a widespread PTC failure and a big spike in accidents. This is entirely possible.

Meanwhile one of the many downsides of PTC is that it will tend to make railroad engineers more complacent because the computers are supposed to be taking care of safety. This also could lead to more accidents, not fewer.

The Association of American Railroads wrote that “Since enactment of the legislation, railroads have devoted enormous human and financial resources to develop a fully functioning PTC system, and progress to date has been substantial.” (end of AAR quote)

So in other words the industry is devoting huge amounts of labor, time and money to PTC that could better be spent elsewhere. PTC could end up having the effect of harming overall railroad safety by drawing capital away from car inspection, signal systems, track maintenance, worker training and other safety measures that are much more cost-effective per dollar invested.

PTC on the freight railroads also is going to require the installation of as many as 20,000 trackside towers nationwide to carry the monitoring equipment. It was recently reported that Indian tribes can protest many of these towers because they might be dug near Indian burial sites. So first the socialists send the “safety nuts” after the railroads, and then they send in the Indians.

Now look at how the same type of people in Canada who have mandated PTC in the US deal with accidents. In a July 6, 2013 wreck that killed 47 people in Lac Megantic, Quebec, Canada, the accident may well have been caused by a unionized engineer who left his crude oil train on a slight grade without properly securing it with handbrakes, allowing it to roll away and crash into the town and explode. The investigation is proceeding. But Canadian laws are rigged against the companies in favor of “the workers”. Here is an excerpt from wikipedia.org:

Since becoming law on March 31, 2004, Section 217.1 in the Criminal Code of Canada places a duty of care on those who manage others, specifically: “Every one who undertakes, or has the authority, to direct how another person does work or performs a task is under a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to that person, or any other person, arising from that work or task.” (end of excerpt)

Notice that the Criminal Code puts the onus on “those who manage others” but not on the worker himself. This is classic anti-capitalism from the socialist point of view, i.e, the bosses and the managers and the company are responsible for all accidents and problems, never the worker. Meanwhile labor unions and socialists often fight for the hiring of or advancement of incompetent or unqualified workers, like under affirmative action or under union work rules.

Transportation Safety Board of Canada chairman Wendy Tadros said at the time of the Quebec accident that the agency will be speaking to anyone who had anything to do with the train and the company. Then Tadros amazingly was quoted as saying, “”No accident is ever caused by one thing. It is always a series of things and always involves the organization and the way that they operate. It never comes down to one individual.”

Huh??!! This is a flat-out lie. This is the chairman of the TSBC. This female should have been fired immediately for making such a statement because it is biased. As an investigator she is supposed to be impartial.

“…always involves the organization and the way that they operate”? Who says? This is preposterous. It sure can come down to “one individual”. What if the engineer was negligent? What if the engineer was drunk or on drugs? What if the engineer had a vendetta against the town or the railroad? What if the engineer was having an argument with his girlfriend over his cell phone and neglected to set the hand brakes?

Remember that a government agent like Tadros in a liberal nation like Canada may seek to bias the case and to take the focus off of the unionized locomotive engineer and to put it on the private railroad company.

This is a standard practice of socialists worldwide in government, in the media, in labor unions, in the universities etc. – always blame “the company” or “the corporation” or “business” or “the manager” but never blame a worker, particularly a unionized worker.

Another major derailment in June 2013 on the CSX freight railroad in upstate New York was pure negligence by a unionized engineer who ran a red signal. But rest assured that CSX will end up being blamed long-term in the court of public opinion. In 1989 the famous wreck of a freight train on the Southern Pacific Railroad in San Bernardino (Los Angeles) was caused by a railroad worker improperly listing the weight of the train on a manifest. But rest assured that the railroad will always be blamed for the tragedy.

Here is the Nikitas3.com proposal for Positive Train Control: Scrap the PTC mandate and allow the railroad companies do their best to enforce safety under reasonable regulations. Our freight railroads today are statistically safer than many other industries while unfortunately these spectacular train accidents always create great media attention. In fact railroads were much more dangerous before the deregulating Staggers Act of 1980, back when the federal government and the unions had a stranglehold on railroad operations that caused them to default, decay, derail and kill much more often than today.

Then again, socialist utopianism always demands utopian safety, i.e., no accidents whatsoever. But consider something like Obamacare which was supposed to cover tens of millions of uninsured people when in fact Obamacare so far has led to millions more people losing their insurance than getting it. This could be compared to more accidents, not less, under PTC. Don’t think it cannot happen and very well could.

So always look at reality when you consider an emotional issue like railroad safety. Because there always are two sides to the story – the socialist side and then the “right” side.

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