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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation
Short-term funding measure includes PTC deadline extension
House GOP leaders late last week unveiled a measure that would extend federal transportation funding for three weeks. The current legislation is set to expire on Thursday.
The extension would enable House leaders to finish work on a six-year, $325 billion transportation funding bill (H.R. 3763) that the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved Oct. 22. Additionally, the measure includes a provision that would extend to 2018 the deadline for railroads to install positive train control (PTC) technology.
Most railroads have said they are unable to meet the current deadline of Dec. 31. If Congress doesn't act to extend it, many freight- and passenger- railroads have said they will have to suspend service in locations across the nation in order to avoid federal fines.
The Freight-Rail Customer Alliance (FRCA) last week became the latest related industry organization imploring members of Congress to pass a PTC deadline extension.
"Our nation's Class I railroads continue to warn, that in order to avoid violating the law, they are 1) beginning to plan now how to phase-out freight and passenger traffic leading up to the Dec. 31 deadline and 2) indicating that they will stop providing service for some of their customers starting Dec. 1, if not sooner," FRCA members wrote in a letter to House and Senate leaders.
"Moreover, some of the railroads have indicated that in addition to stopping the transport of TIH (toxic inhalation hazard) cargo they may be compelled to go further – stopping to handle perhaps all other traffic, including traffic that is non-TIH or passengers. Such an outcome would result in chaos for the nation’s transportation system and for various industrial and agricultural sectors," the letter stated.
House leaders said they thought the proposed short-term funding bill could come up for a vote on the House floor as early as Tuesday, according to a report by The Hill.
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