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Federal Railway Administration

Perhaps the most significant railroad problem today is the refusal of the railroads, including the LIRR and MetroNorth, to equip their trains with effective brakes.

It is not a miracle that subway trains can stop in less than 660 feet from 45 mph but railroad  trains can not.  There are only a few simple things that must be done to dramatically increase rail safety.

First, increase the surface area of the brake shoes so that they are able to lock the wheels on a fully loaded car.

Second, operate the brakes electrically so that they are applied to the entire consist (train) simultaneously.  These electrically opearted brakes should include anti-lock features with Westinghouse backup.

Third, brakes should normally be applied with spring tension, with air used to hold them in the released position.  Thus, even if they are not set manually, and a train is left unattended with no power, the brakes would be applied.

The technology is readily available as may be demonstrated by a visit to any NYC Transit Authority shop.