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Rail News: Communication and Signal

USDOT proposes PTC amendment that eliminates analyses required for PIH rerouting


Today, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced proposed changes to the Federal Railroad Administration’s regulations governing the installation of positive train control systems (PTC) that will give railroads greater flexibility in assessing the need for PTC on certain lines.

PTC currently is required on routes carrying poison inhalation hazard (PIH) materials, and on routes that provide intercity and commuter-rail services. If a railroad opts to reroute the shipment of PIH materials off such a rail line and chooses not to install PTC there, the company must currently request FRA approval and conduct a complex set of analyses.

The amendments would eliminate the need to perform those analyses, but do not impact the existing requirements to install PTC on lines used to provide passenger-rail service, according to a U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) press release.

The amendments could save affected railroads $340 million in the first several years after the PTC mandate takes effect — and save up to $1 billion over 20 years — by not installing PTC systems on as many as 14,000 miles of track, USDOT said. The lines impacted by the proposal have “significantly less accident exposure because they do not carry passenger trains or PIH materials,” according to a prepared statement.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking will be published in the Aug. 24 Federal Register. FRA is accepting public comments on the proposal through Oct. 24.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/23/2011