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Missourians Respond to Passenger Train Crashes

Just this past week, two Amtrak train crashes occurred, in Virginia and South Carolina. The crashes, which combined to kill three people and injure 122 more, raised questions about the current state of rail transportation.

“You’re going to see a lot of folks talking about positive train control (PTC),” Washington Post transportation reporter Lori Aratani said. “We know in at least two of these recent incidents, PTC could have prevented that.” 

Positive train control, according to transportation company Union Pacific’s website, is an advanced system designed to automatically stop a train before certain accidents occur. With the second and third largest rail transportation centers, in Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri and its transit organizations are familiar with preventative members.

“We work very closely with (Amtrak) to maintain safety at crosses that they use,” Missouri Operation Lifesaver executive director Tim Hull said. “I have some Amtrak employees that are Missouri Operation Lifesaver presenters.”

Missouri had three fatalities at grade crossings last year, which Hull said was a good year for the organization, but a number that he’d hope could be zero.