GE-Tessco Train-Safety Gear to Cover ‘Dark Territory’

General Electric Co., the world’s largest locomotive maker, and Tessco Technologies Inc. said they would work together to produce crash-avoidance systems that stop trains without an engineer’s intervention.

The venture will seek to sell the technology for the more than 7,000 switch locations on U.S. railroads not monitored by any signal system, the companies said today. A 2008 U.S. law set a deadline of Dec. 31, 2015, to cover that so-called dark territory, GE and Tessco said.

Positive train control, as the systems are known, is meant to prevent crashes such as the 2008 Los Angeles collision between a commuter train and a Union Pacific Corp. freight train that killed 25 people. Sensors would have detected the risk of a crash and automatically applied the brakes, the Federal Railroad Administration said at the time.

The Association of American Railroads is “committed to meeting the implementation deadline set by Congress,” said Patti Reilly, a spokeswoman for the industry’s Washington-based trade group. “We look forward to players being in the field,” she said of the GE-Tessco venture.

Railroads have long worked to improve control over trains’ location and velocity. Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE and Norfolk Southern Corp. unveiled traffic-management software in June to boost average speeds, letting carriers haul more freight on the same amount of track.

GE fell 27 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $18.33 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Tessco tumbled $2.86, or 18 percent, to $13.30 on the Nasdaq Stock Market after the Hunt Valley, Maryland-based company cut its fiscal 2011 earnings forecast. It was the biggest one-day drop since January 2009.

GE Transportation, the Erie, Pennsylvania-based unit that will work on the technology, provided $3.83 billion of the parent company’s $157 billion in 2009 sales. Tessco produces radios and other wireless communications and networking systems.

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