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Train derailment revives call for automated safeguards

March 5, 2012, Toronto - An investigation into a deadly Via train derailment west of Toronto has revived calls for automated safeguards to reduce the risk of potentially fatal mistakes.


March 5, 2012
By The Canadian Press

A computerized system called positive train control drew headlines last week after some suggested it could have kept a train from derailing in Burlington, Ontario.

Experts say automation has cut down on transportation-related deaths, but warn that no computer can guarantee passenger safety.

And in some cases, they say, the growing dependence on technology can cause human operators to panic when the system fails.

Aviation experts have sounded the alarm over automation addiction in their industry and how it affects pilots' ability to fly without a technological safety net.

An Air France plane plunged into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009, killing 228 people, after the autopilot system shut down.

Investigators found a junior pilot made mistakes that caused the aircraft to stall.