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Rail News: Positive Train Control

Metra adjusts Rock Island schedule for PTC impacts

PTC soon will be fully implemented on the Rock Island District Line.
Photo – Metra


Metra has unveiled a new Rock Island District Line schedule that includes necessary changes to accommodate positive train control (PTC) implementation and some service enhancements, such as new express trains.

To start on a trial basis Jan. 28, the new schedule incorporates comments from more than 800 people who emailed the agency about the initial proposed schedule and suggested adjustments, Metra officials said in a press release. Operations and ridership patterns will be evaluated over the next few months, they added. The line runs from points in Chicago to Joliet, Illinois.

To handle many passengers during both the morning and evening rush periods, Metra needs to quickly turn trains around at downtown stations or in the suburbs. This process of flipping a train will take longer because of PTC implementation, Metra officials said.

"To flip a train, the engineer must move from the cab car to the locomotive or vice versa, and the crew must clear the train, perform a brake test and conduct a job briefing. With the added task of initializing the PTC system, these flips are expected to take more than 10 minutes," they said.

The agency is responsible for creating the back office system and installing onboard equipment for PTC, while the freight railroads are responsible for the trackside equipment and back offices for the Metra routes they host.

PTC already is fully operational on the BNSF Line, and Union Pacific Railroad has begun implementation on its three lines, agency officials said. PTC is expected to be fully installed on other Metra lines in 2019 and 2020.

"Similar schedule changes will be needed on other lines with tight flips as PTC is implemented," Metra officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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