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FRA says PTC now operating on 92 percent of route miles

(Source: Federal Railroad Administration press release, November 25, 2019)

ABSTRACT: The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today released a quarterly status update on railroads’ self-reported progress toward fully implementing positive train control (PTC) systems. Based on railroads’ Third Quarter 2019 (Q3) PTC Progress Reports which were due to FRA by October 31, 2019, the majority of the 42 railroads subject to the statutory implementation requirement are operating PTC systems in revenue service or in advanced field testing, known as revenue service demonstration (RSD), as of September 30, 2019.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today released a quarterly status update on railroads’ self-reported progress toward fully implementing positive train control (PTC) systems. PTC accomplishes two of the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) top priorities—safety and innovation—by vastly improving rail safety with industry-designed emerging technologies that can monitor speed and automatically stop a train to prevent specific human-error accidents. DOT has supported PTC implementation since the original 2008 mandate, providing technical support and administering over $2.5 billion in funding for freight, intercity, and commuter railroads for PTC through numerous grant and loan programs.

“We remain steadfast in compelling and assisting railroads to successfully complete all steps necessary for full PTC implementation,” said FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory. “The magnitude of this undertaking is immense, but putting PTC systems into operation demands diligence and a continued sense of urgency.”

Based on railroads’ Third Quarter 2019 (Q3) PTC Progress Reports which were due to FRA by October 31, 2019, the majority of the 42 railroads subject to the statutory implementation requirement are operating PTC systems in revenue service or in advanced field testing, known as revenue service demonstration (RSD), as of September 30, 2019.

All affected railroads have committed to implementing PTC systems on the required main lines by December 31, 2020, if not earlier. To date, four host railroads and three tenant-only, commuter railroads report having fully implemented PTC. The Q3 Reports reveal that in total, PTC systems are governing operations on 92.4% of all required route miles. Specifically, Class I freight railroads report that PTC is in operation on 51,222 (95.4%) of their required route miles, a 4% increase since Quarter 2. Host commuter railroads report they are operating PTC systems in revenue service or RSD on approximately 1,310 route miles (42%) of their 3,129 required route miles, a 5% increase since Quarter 2. All railroads have committed to fully implementing PTC on their required main lines by December 31, 2020.

Amtrak, as a host railroad on and near the Northeast Corridor (NEC) and other parts of the country (including Chicago and Michigan), reports that approximately 899 (99.8%) of nearly 901 required route miles are governed by a PTC system. Also, by law, six Class II or III, short line, or terminal railroads must implement PTC on their main lines that provide or host regularly scheduled intercity or commuter rail passenger transportation. One of these six railroads has been operating its FRA-certified and interoperable PTC system in revenue service since 2018; one commenced RSD on its PTC-required main line during Q3; and the other four are currently conducting field testing on the general rail network in preparation for RSD.

With approximately 13 months remaining until the deadline set forth by Congress, Administrator Batory and FRA’s PTC subject matter experts are monitoring all railroads’ progress on a regular basis, and providing technical support to railroads not yet in RSD. FRA continues to engage in a direct, sustained, and intensive manner, with all stakeholders underscoring the importance of railroads’ achieving full implementation of FRA-certified and interoperable PTC systems on all required main lines by December 31, 2020.

Since 2008, the U.S. Department of Transportation and FRA have awarded approximately $2.6 billion in grant funding and loan financing for implementation of PTC systems. That amount equates to approximately 18% of the railroad industry’s total estimated costs for initial PTC system implementation.

To view detailed infographics depicting railroads’ progress toward fully implementing PTC systems as of September 30, 2019, please visit https://www.fra.dot.gov/ptc. To view the public version of each railroad’s Quarterly PTC Progress Report (Form FRA F 6180.165, OMB Control No. 2130-0553) for Quarter 3 of 2019, please visit each railroad’s PTC docket on https://www.regulations.gov/. Railroads’ PTC docket numbers are available at https://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0628.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

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