Following railroad disasters in Hoboken and Brooklyn in the past few months, two US Senators from New Jersey, Robert Menendez and Cory Booker, believe a federal review of train safety in New Jersey and nationwide is necessary. Per a report in The Press of Atlantic City, the federal review would focus on whether railroad systems had installed inward facing cameras in their trains and implemented sleep apnea testing of employees who operate their locomotives.
Both Senators believe that some railroad systems have been too slow about implementing the safety initiatives. Neither Senator directly called out New Jersey Transit for its role in the Hoboken train accident or the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) in the wake of the LIRR train derailment. Instead, they drew from numerous examples of railroad disasters that had happened nationwide over the last 15 years as the reason why the safety changes needed to be implemented sooner rather than later.
4 Ways to Improve Train Safety in New Jersey
A couple of years back, Popular Mechanics published an article about ways to improve train safety. The article included the following tips:
- Remote Control Brakes – The Positive Train Control (PTC) system uses GPS technology to let train operators know if they are speeding. If the train’s conductor does not slow down following the PTC alert, PTC can take control and apply the brakes.
- Using Satellites to Send Stop Signals to Trains – SafeRail was in the process of designing a satellite GPS system that would help train engineers and conductors keep track of their train’s location in real time. The system would also enable train operators to trigger stoplights and lower railroad crossing bars before their locomotive reaches a crossing.
- Safety Laser System – At the time of the Popular Mechanics report, a system was being tested in New York City that used lasers and cameras to detect objects that fall off train station platforms and alert railroad personnel. The system has the lasers and cameras aimed at a spot 1 foot below the edge of the platform. The lasers are designed to ignore objects that are larger than humans, such as a passing train.
- Improving Tanker Car Strength – The report in Popular Mechanics mentioned a that the Advanced Tank Car Collaborative Research Program was working on a type of fiberglass to be used as a shell for hazardous-materials tanks. The fiberglass’s puncture-resistance is reportedly greater than steel’s. Using oil tankers made from this type of fiberglass could help prevent oil tanker explosions if there’s a train crash.