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Following Amtrak Derailment In Philadelphia, Caltrain Hopes To Have Positive Train Control System Installed By End of 2015

SAN CARLOS (KCBS) – Train operators across the country, including in the Bay Area, are paying close attention to the investigation into this week's Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia, which left eight dead and over 200 people injured.

"We always follow incidents in other parts of the country just to understand what we can do to ensure that those kinds of things don't happen here," said Caltrain spokesperson Jayme Ackemann.

Investigators said a system known as Positive Train Control, or PTC, might have prevented the derailment, but it was not installed on the tracks where Train No. 188 derailed on Tuesday night.

Caltrain has been working on implementing the system on its own tracks since 2014. "It communicates any speed restrictions along the rail corridor to the train itself and if the engineer, for any reason, does not adhere to those speed restrictions, it will slow the train down automatically," she said.

The Federal Railroad Administration gave Caltrain the green light to implement and test the system last year and the transit agency is hoping to have it installed by the end of 2015.

Ackemann said unfortunately, the safety system cannot see everything.

"If a car is sitting in the tracks between the gates and the gates are able to function normally, it can't see that car," Ackemann said. "So there are limitations to the technology.

Caltrain's Advanced Signal System project is funded through a combination of local, regional, state and federal sources with a total cost of $231 million.

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