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Chicago Area Politicians Call For More Money To Implement Positive Train Control

(CBS) -- Chicago area political leaders are urging Washington to spend more money to increase train safety, reports WBBM's Cisco Cotto.

Senator Dick Durbin and Congressmen Mike Quigley and Dan Lipinski spoke at the LaSalle Street Metra Station with Durbin saying opposition in Congress needs to release more money to ensure positive train control (PTC) happens in Chicagoland.


"It is time for the Republican leadership in Congress to truly lead," he said.

Quigley says the deadly Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia would not have happened if PTC was in place but Lipinski doesn't want commuters to be worried.

"By no means are we saying the rail lines are not safe now," Lipinski said. "This is about increasing safety."

In 2008, Congress mandated the safety system which can override human error and slow down or stop a train, be installed on all rail lines by the end of 2015. It's a deadline Metra likely won't make.

Metra says it will likely take $350 million to get PTC in place.

Lack of funding is not the only problem. With about 1,300 trains, including freight and Amtrak, sharing the 11 Metra lines daily, all would have to be able to communicate with each other.

"The technology we need doesn't even fully exist yet to fully implement this if we had all the money in the world," said Metra Chairman Martin Oberman.

Because of that, lawmakers are asking congress to help fund the installation of PTC and allow some rail lines to miss the December 31 deadline without facing penalties.

According to Metra it would take until 2019 to equip all its lines with PTC.

Right now the proposed federal fine for missing the December 31 deadline: $25,000 a day.

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