RTD’s train safety feature meant to prevent catastrophic train crashes

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DENVER -- A federally required safety system meant to prevent catastrophic train crashes is featured on all of RTD's new commuter rail lines.

Positive Train Control is an automated system that's intended to avoid disastrous train collisions, like the one that happened in Hoboken, N.J.

According to an RTD spokesman, the system sets speed limits for trains along the routes, gauging speed and other obstacles on a train's path.

If a danger is detected, the system warns the driver of the train. If the driver does not act within the next few seconds, the system automatically brakes the train to a stop.

The train cannot continue unless a dispatcher and the driver send a message to PTC that everything is OK.

RTD's A and B line trains are equipped with PTC. So is the G Line that is scheduled to open later this fall. The light rail trains have a similar safety feature.

The RTD spokesman said the train's safety system is not totally complete. It still has some kinks to work out at train crossings, but there isn't a danger to the public.

RTD is not the only rail system to have this system. PTC is federally mandated. The deadline for all railroads to have the system is Dec. 31, 2018. The deadline has been extended twice because of the high cost railroads face to retrofit their tracks.