ST. LOUIS (KSDK) – The train derailment in New York is raising concerns nationwide about train safety. Some transportation experts are calling on the federal government to require more sophisticated technology. That technology is already in place in the St. Louis Metro system.
Every piece of track is regulated by a maximum speed, which varies depending on potential safety concerns. If a train is coming up on a certain stretch of track too quickly, the train alerts the operator with an alarm. If that operator doesn't slow down, the train will automatically start braking on its own, potentially until it comes to a stop.
"We move thousands of people at a time. It's very precious cargo. It's a responsibility we take very seriously," said Metro Chief Operating Officer Ray Friem.
The responsibility starts with employees. Operators go through an extensive training program before they're allowed to transport passengers. The technology system is meant to back them up. Not only does it prevent trains from speeding, it also alerts operators if something is blocking a train's path. The idea is to prevent derailments and collisions, and the system seems to be working.
"We've never even had a close call," said Friem.
But Metro says it's still constantly working to improve.
"We review the smallest issues that happen on the system in great detail to see, could this have been worse, or is there anything that could have happened, is there anything we can do better?" said Friem.
If the government does move forward with safety technology requirements, the Metro says it's confident it would meet those standards. Although at this point, the discussion is over larger rail trains.