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Rail News: Positive Train Control

Antenna installation issues might delay PTC implementation, House leaders say

Leaders of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and House Energy and Commerce Committee recently wrote to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn to express concerns that antenna installation issues might delay positive train control (PTC) implementation beyond the mandated deadline of Dec. 31, 2015.

PTC implementation, on the scale required by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, has never been attempted anywhere in the world and will require the deployment of as many as 22,000 rail-side antennas, wrote House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Chairman Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), and Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.).

The federal environmental and historic review processes associated with antenna installations add another impediment to meeting the deadline, they believe.

"Apparently recognizing that the FCC's processes cannot accommodate the railroads' statutorily mandated PTC implementation schedule, the FCC staff has advised the railroads not to proceed with any applications for environmental and historic review until an approach for expediting the notification and review processes can be determined," the committee leaders wrote. "Accordingly, PTC antenna installation activities by the railroads have been essentially put on hold until the FCC staff advises the railroads that they can start again."

They urged the FCC to "expeditiously" put a process in place to help facilitate the timely deployment of PTC. The leaders also asked for periodic updates from Clyburn or her staff regarding the commission's involvement with PTC implementation.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/9/2013