Could Sunday's deadly Amtrak-CSX train wreck been avoided?

PINE RIDGE, SC (WIS) - Many are questioning whether Sunday's deadly train wreck could have been prevented.

PTC or Positive Train Control is what many have been discussing after Sunday's deadly train crash in Pine Ridge. Experts say it's what could have prevented the collision altogether.

The technology is described as a computer-based system designed to prevent train accidents by monitoring speed, location, and direction.

PTC is nothing new. Legislators have been working to implement this system throughout the country since 2008, but funding and technology have caused major setbacks.

Not only can PTC track a train's location and speed, it can also take control of the train if the engineer onboard fails to respond to any warning signals. I talked to a professor who developed USC's railroad engineering program, Dimitris Rizos.

He says he looking to prepare a new generation to operate our railroads and keep passengers out of harm's way.

"The railway industry has a paramount importance on safety. We try to follow their footsteps. The research that we do here in the lab focuses on improving the safety of operations," Rizos said.

Rizos says implementing PTC on every railway is a step in the right direction to protecting our railroads, but he says that won't be easy.

"It's a very costly system to implement – we're talking billions and it's a system that needs to be implemented across companies. So, it should be interoperable and as such, it takes time."

The USC railroad program has a state-of-the-art laboratory with a built-in train track to help students study its operation and of course safety.

Just last month, lawmakers introduced new legislation to speed up the process of getting that PTC technology on all of our railways by Dec. 31, 2018.

That means that all of the hardware and software must be installed and at least 50 percent of the route miles must be operable, according to the Association of American Railroads, a trade group.

The project is supposed to cost more than $22 billion over 20 years.

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