SEPTA official: Bronx-like derailment 'not a likely scenario' here

ASSOCIATED PRESS First responders tend to the scene of Sunday's deadly passenger-train derailment in the Bronx.
ASSOCIATED PRESS First responders tend to the scene of Sunday's deadly passenger-train derailment in the Bronx.
Posted: December 04, 2013

IN THE wake of Sunday's deadly Bronx train derailment, commuters might be wondering:

Could it happen here?

Well, in Philadelphia, it's "not a likely scenario," according to Jeff Knueppel, SEPTA's deputy general manager.

"We've had a good track record with the problem of overspeeding, and in a short amount of time, we're looking to eliminate it completely from our system," said Knueppel.

In 26 years on the job, he said, he has not encountered a derailment on par with the one that killed four people.

The crash's cause was still being investigated yesterday, but Knueppel said human error shouldn't be ruled out.

"It's a tough situation to speculate on, but a lot has to go wrong with the equipment for it to be the cause of a crash," he said.

Knueppel pointed out that SEPTA has automatic train control, a system that remotely controls train signals and overrides dangerous speeds.

Even bigger changes are coming down the pike for SEPTA: The "positive train control" system, which can pinpoint a train's location and override controls during emergency situations, is due by federal mandate on SEPTA trains by 2015.

The systems, when paired with SEPTA's stringent training for engineers - yearly tests concerning track layout and emergency proceedings - create a recipe for success, Knueppel said.

"We want people to be at ease," he said. "Based on the way SEPTA operates, a derailment like this is not [likely]."


On Twitter: @Vellastrations

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