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Railroad company updating safety features on Missouri passenger trains

A steady stream of people traveling to and from Kansas City and St. Louis got on and off the Amtrak train in Jefferson City Wednesday night.

Henry Bluett, who lives in St. Louis, made his annual holiday trip to visit his family. His trip comes two days after a deadly train derailment in Washington.

“Unnerving a little bit, but other than that, it’s okay,” he said.

Other passengers told ABC 17 News the derailment didn’t have them second guessing their planned travels.

The passenger train in Washington was not yet equipped with Positive Train Control, a system designed to automatically stop a train during excessive speeding.

In 2008, Congress passed the Rail Safety Improvement Act, which requires all railroads to install the PTC system on tracks that carry passengers or toxic materials.

Marc Magliari, a spokesperson for Amtrak, said in an email Wednesday that its passenger trains in Missouri mostly run on tracks owned by Union Pacific Railroad.

“Safety is as important to Union Pacific and our employees as it is to all of our customers and the more than 7,000 communities we serve,” Jeff DeGraff, a spokesperson for Union Pacific Railroad wrote in an email Wednesday. “We invest billions of dollars each year on rail infrastructure, technology and innovation in order to achieve and surpass our high safety standards. The deployment and implementation of Positive Train Control is part of that investment and commitment.”

So far, Union Pacific Railroad has implemented the PTC system along the Amtrak routes from Jefferson City to St. Louis. It still needs to be installed from Jefferson City to Kansas City.

DeGraff said that is scheduled to be done in 2018, but a more specific timeline hasn’t been released.

According to federal law, all railroads have until the end of 2018 to implement the PTC system. Some companies could get an extra two years if certain requirements aren’t met.

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