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Congress delays train safety technology mandate 3 to 5 years

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WASHINGTON — Congress has passed a bill that delays for at least three years the mandate for railroads to put long-sought safety technology in place, and extends the government’s authority to spend money on highway programs.

The Senate passed the bill by voice vote. The House had passed the measure a day earlier, and it now goes to the White House.

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

Railroads have had seven years to install PTC, but most weren’t expected to meet the deadline by the end of this year.

The measure allows the government to continue to spend money on highway programs through Nov. 20, buying time for Congress to pass a longer-term transportation bill.