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Rail News: Positive Train Control
Batory: PTC is 90 percent installed, but 'significant work' remains
Positive train control (PTC) systems were in operation on nearly 90 percent of the route miles subject to the federal mandate as of June, but the rail industry still has "significant work" to do before fully implementing the safety technology by 2020's end, Federal Railroad Administrator Ronald Batory told a Senate committee yesterday.
As of June 30, PTC was operating on 87 percent of the 58,000 route miles subject to the federal PTC mandate, based on preliminary reports the railroads file with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). That represented a 4 percent increase from the first quarter, Batory told the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which held the hearing to receive a PTC status report.
In addition, railroads are testing PTC systems in revenue service demonstration (RSD) on at least 718 route miles as of June 30.
"Nonetheless, railroads must still complete significant work to full implement their PTC systems by Dec. 31, 2020, especially with respect to activating PTC systems on the remaining required main lines and achieving the necessary interoperability with their tenant railroads," Batory said in his prepared statement to the committee.
Eleven freight railroads, 30 commuter railroads and Amtrak are subject to the PTC mandate. Batory told the committee that as of June:
• Class Is recently informed FRA that PTC systems were in operation on 91 percent of their required main lines, which represented a 4 percent increase from the first quarter;
• Host commuter railroads reported operating PTC systems in revenue service on 443 route miles and in RSD testing on 718 route miles, which represented 37 percent of their 3,111 PTC-required route miles and a 12 percent increase since Q1;
• Amtrak, as a host railroad on and near the Northeast Corridor and other parts of the country, reported 899 of its 900 required route miles are governed by a PTC system. In addition, operations are governed by a PTC system on 84 percent of route miles where Amtrak operates as a tenant on other railroads' PTC-equipped main lines; and
• Six short line or terminal railroads must implement PTC systems on their own main lines that provide or host regularly scheduled intercity or commuter passenger rail service. One of those six has been operating its FRA-certified and interoperable PTC system in revenue service since 2018, while the other five are conducting FRA-approved field testing of their PTC systems on the general rail network. They expect to begin RSD during the third quarter.
As for interoperability, Batory said that host railroads reported 17 percent of tenant railroads that operate on their PTC-required main lines had achieved interoperability as of March 31.
Host railroads also reported that 33 percent of their applicable tenant railroads were installing PTC hardware and 38 percent had advanced to interoperability testing as of March 31, Batory testified.
"FRA is currently directing its focus and resources to the PTC-mandated main lines that have a high concentration of host railroads and tenant railroads, including commuter railroads with significant remaining work, such as the PTC-mandated main lines in the Northeast, Chicago area, Florida and Texas," Batory said.
Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.