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December 2015

Rail News: PTC

Deadline extension a big help with enormous PTC implementation effort, Class I CEOs say


Compiled by Managing Editor Jeff Stagl

In Progressive Railroading’s soon-to-arrive December issue, the seven Class I chief executive officers share their thoughts on traffic- and revenue-growth prospects in the coming year as part of our Outlook 2016 coverage. They also cite what might prove to be hindrances to their growth plans. Below, three of the CEOs address a topic that isn’t a part of our print coverage: the positive train control (PTC) deadline extension. The responses — received via email — are provided by Union Pacific Railroad Chairman, President and CEO Lance Fritz; CN Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Luc Jobin (subbing for President and CEO Claude Mongeau, who’s on medical leave); and CSX Corp. Chairman and CEO Michael Ward.

Q: How does the PTC deadline extension help your railroad’s implementation plan?

Fritz: UP applauds the extension of the PTC deadline [to the end of 2018].

Lance Fritz

This is a big job, and we are committed to implementing PTC carefully and thoroughly to enhance the safety of both our employees and the communities in which we operate. We’ve made substantial progress fulfilling our commitment to install PTC. By 2015’s end, we will have invested $2 billion as 1,000 employees and contractors continue developing and installing our PTC system.

We have installed hardware on 70 percent of our 6,500 locomotives and anticipate completing the installation process sometime after 2016. We have installed PTC hardware and software on 67 percent of approximately 20,000 total miles. In addition, we have installed about 63 percent of 10,000 antennas on our network.

Jobin: CN welcomes passage by the U.S. Congress in late October of a multi-year extension of the PTC implementation beyond Dec. 31, 2015. PTC deployment in the U.S. has been affected by significant delays in the development of several key technologies and components that left the rail industry unable to meet the year-end 2015 deadline despite its best efforts to do so.

Luc Jobin

Despite many challenges, CN is making steady progress in its PTC implementation and plans to install the technology on approximately 3,800 miles of track in the U.S. within the revised time frame for implementation as contemplated by Congress. The new PTC measure: extends the deadline by three years, from Dec. 31, 2015, to Dec. 31, 2018; allows for up to 24 additional months to complete PTC implementation; and requires railroads to file revised PTC implementation plans with the U.S. Department of Transportation within 90 days of enactment.

Ward: The PTC extension came down to the wire in terms of the Congressional schedule, but as everyone now knows, Congress passed and President Obama signed a law in early November extending the PTC deployment deadline until the end of 2018, with provisions for an additional two years if necessary.

Michael Ward

This extension makes it possible for CSX to continue deploying and testing PTC technology safely and without disrupting service to our customers or commuters. More than 1,000 CSX employees are working diligently on PTC development and installation. To date, we have invested more than $1.4 billion in the technology, and the PTC team has begun installation on more than 2,800 locomotives, installed more than 2,400 wayside interface units, constructed some 450 radio base-stations and completed the herculean effort of replacing 5,000 miles of signals with new technology. We were the second major railroad to launch a revenue service demonstration, and we are on track to meet the 2018 installation deadline. We expect our PTC system to be fully operational in 2020.


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