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Rail News: Positive Train Control

NTSB schedules public forum on PTC progress


The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) plans to hold a public forum on positive train control (PTC) on Feb. 27 in Washington, D.C. The board soon will release a detailed agenda and list of speakers for the event.

The forum — titled, "Positive Train Control: Is it on Track?" — will bring together a wide range of experts to discuss the technological, regulatory and operational status of PTC, NTSB officials said in a press release.

"Over 40 years since the NTSB issued its first recommendation addressing collision avoidance technologies on the railroad and after years of dialogue with industry officials, we continue to investigate accidents where PTC could have prevented the accident and saved lives," said NTSB Chair Deborah Hersman. "As the industry prepares to make substantial infrastructure investments, this is a timely opportunity to engage in the dialogue and advocate for this important safety enhancement."

The NTSB issued its first recommendation calling for automatic train control in 1970. Twenty years later, positive train separation, which was renamed positive train control in 2001, made the NTSB's list of the "most wanted" safety improvements.

In 2005, the board held a symposium on PTC to "reinvigorate the dialogue" between the rail industry and state and federal agencies on issues relevant to the technology's implementation, NTSB officials said.

Following a September 2008 collision between Metrolink and Union Pacific Railroad trains in Chatsworth, Calif., Congress passed the Rail Safety Improvement Act, which requires certain freight and commuter railroads to implement PTC by Dec. 31, 2015.