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Rail News: Positive Train Control

Metra seeks $3.7 million grant for PTC disaster recovery system


Metra announced Thursday that it has applied for a federal grant to help fund a $3.7 million disaster recovery system for the commuter railroad's positive train control (PTC) system.

Metra is seeking the funds through the Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) railroad safety technology grant program. The FRA in April announced it would provide $25 million in competitive grants to railroads, suppliers, and state and local governments for PTC-related projects.

The disaster recovery system would activate automatically if the primary back-office server system fails due to a power failure, natural disaster, routine maintenance or another unforeseen event. Without such a system in place, any failure to the primary system controlling Metra's PTC operations would "severely disrupt" rail operations for both passenger and freight railroads, Metra officials said in a press release.

Metra will house the disaster recovery system at its Kensington Yard facility on Chicago's south side. In addition to providing a fail-safe operating capability for PTC technology, the project will lay the groundwork for Metra to establish a second fully redundant dispatching center, railroad officials said.

Implementing PTC will cost the commuter railroad more than $350 million, Metra officials believe. The technology also will add $15 million to $20 million to the railroad's annual operating costs, they said.

So far, Metra has allocated $187 million in capital funding toward PTC. The railroad is banking on additional state and federal funds to provide the remaining funds needed to complete PTC, agency officials said, noting that the recently enacted Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act authorizes $199 million in fiscal year 2017 to assist railroads in financing the installation of PTC.

Metra expects full implementation of PTC by 2019 or sooner.

Metra's infographic on PTC

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More News from 5/20/2016