The train was travelling at around 82 miles per hour, even though a speed of 30 miles per hour or less was mandated on the stretch of curvy track the train was passing through.
In 2008, Congress passed the Rail Safety Improvement Act, which mandated that railroad companies install positive train control—a technology that automatically detects excessive speeding and other human error.
But even though the law was passed five years ago, the deadline to install positive train control isn’t for another two years.
In 2008 as a Democratic congressman representing Minnesota's 8th District, James Oberstar was a driving force behind this change as chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee. He joins The Takeaway to explain why Congress pushed for the Rail Safety Improvement Act and why the deadline isn't until December 31, 2015.
Also joining the program is Stuart Silverstein, assistant editor at FairWarning.org, an investigative news organization focused on public health and safety issues. Silverstein explains why some rail companies are succeeding at installing the positive train control system while others are missing the...