Will PTC prevent all railroad-related accidents and incidents?
PTC cannot stop a train approaching an obstructed street-level crossing, nor will it prevent a vehicle from driving into or around lowered railroad crossing gates. PTC cannot prevent trespassers from making their way onto the tracks, nor notify the train’s braking system of the trespasser. A conductor’s visual observation of either of these incursions does not provide for adequate braking time for a train weighing 2,000 tons or more.
What PTC does not do:
PTC does NOT prevent grade crossing or trespasser incidents. Nearly 96% of rail-related (i.e., not PTC-preventable) fatalities are attributable to grade crossing incursions (273 deaths and 813 injuries in 2017) and trespassing (560 deaths in 2017).
PTC does NOT initiate in-terminal stops: the current generation of technology being installed has not been designed to bring trains to a stop to prevent end-of-track collisions, such as those incidents at Atlantic Terminal (LIRR, 1/4/17) and Hoboken (NJT, 9/29/16). A robust Obstructive Sleep Apnea screening and treatment program, however, might have prevented both of these particular incidents.