House votes to delay rail safety mandate by 3 to 5 years, funds transportation programs

WASHINGTON – The House has passed a bill delaying for three to five years the mandate for railroads to put long-sought safety technology in place.

Federal accident investigators say the technology, known as positive train control, would have prevented a deadly Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia last May.

The technology automatically slows or stops trains that are in danger of colliding or derailing due to excessive speed. A 2008 law gave railroads until the end of this year to implement the expensive technology.

The bill also extends the government’s authority to spend money on highway programs through Nov. 20 in an effort to buy time for Congress to pass a long-term transportation bill. Current authority is due to expire on Thursday.