Congress enacted the legislation ordering the installation of positive train control in 2008. Setting a deadline at the end of 2015 simply wasn’t realistic.Not to mention that shopping for components at Radio Shack is increasingly something only people of a certain age get. It's also a good bet that whatever train control network is in place at year's end will be obsolete in the technological sense within five years. But railroads persevere. A major junction in the Metra network still moves trains with The Pennsylvania Railroad's electropneumatic interlockings from the Calvin Coolidge era.
At the start, there were delays just writing the rules. More time went by as railroads waited to get their plans approved. Railroads had to go through a cumbersome Federal Communications Commission process to get radio spectrum (Metra still doesn’t know if it has enough). And the technology had to be designed; it wasn’t something they could go buy at Radio Shack.
The editors, however, have the policy implications right.
Forcing the system to grind to a halt on Jan. 1 won’t do us any favors. Nor should Metra be forced to waste time making contingency plans. Extend the deadline now.Right now, my over-under is on Congress either doing nothing until the railroads issue their embargoes around Thanksgiving, which will start to bite around Christmas, or Congress doing nothing until the trains stop running.
If you're really into the political scenarios, might Our President take a page out of Harry Truman's book and nationalize the railroads, ordering the National Guard to run trains, train control in place or not?