Freight lines, intercity, and commuter rail systems face a December deadline to have new safety systems installed. One problem: they don't have the money to hit that target date. The system is called positive train control (PTC), which uses satellite and wireless capability to slow down trains which are going too fast. Congress mandated in 2008 railways have it installed within seven years, but didn't provide financial support past the first year. So facing a December 31st deadline, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says he's open to setting a new target date to let railroads become compliant.
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"We've fallen down on providing help to these railroads," Durbin said. "I understood from the start that we'd be giving them some helping hand to reach this goal, but we've fallen down on that. So I'm willing to extend." If there's no extension passed, railroads could be fined up to $25,000 per day for not having PTC systems in place. Whether PTC will be an effective safety measure isn't being disputed by Durbin, who mentioned such a system would have prevented the derailment of an Amtrak train in Philadelphia in May, an accident which injured more than 200 passengers.