Train safety technology hasn’t quite reached the station

After years of delays, a railroad safety system that federal regulators say could have prevented some 300 deaths since 1969 is finally close to full implementation — but large gaps remain, with commuter railroads using the system on fewer than half of the tracks required by December 2020.

Overall, the news for supporters of the so-called positive train control system is promising — 92 percent of the 58,000 track miles required to implement the safety system have it installed, according the Federal Railroad Administration, which is overseeing compliance with the law.

But while Amtrak is using positive train control on 99.8 percent of its track miles and Class 1 freight railroads — which account for 53,718 of the track miles covered under the statute — are operating the system on 95.4 percent of their tracks, commuter railroads and miscellaneous railroads have a way to go.