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Rail News: Positive Train Control

FRA: Four railroads at risk of missing PTC deadline

"I’m pleased with the growing number of railroads that have reached critical milestones,” said FRA Administrator Ronald Batory (pictured).
Photo – FRA


The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) last week released a first-quarter 2020 status report on railroads’ progress in implementing positive train control (PTC) systems as required by Congress. 

As of March 31, 98 percent of the nearly 58,000 route miles subject to the federal mandate were either in revenue service demonstration or in revenue service. 

About 63 percent of all commuter railroads’ cumulative required route miles were PTC-governed as of March 31, a nearly 9 percent increase since the previous quarter. 

In addition, interoperability has been achieved in nearly 49 percent of the 229 applicable, host-tenant railroad relationships as of March 31, a 10 percent increase since Q4 2019. 

According to the FRA, four host railroads are currently at risk of not fully implementing a PTC system on all required main lines by Dec. 31: New Jersey Transit, TEXRail, Metra and New Mexico Rail Runner Express.

To evaluate the risk of noncompliance, the FRA considered the percentage of mandated route miles currently governed by a PTC system; unresolved technical issues; the percentage of a host railroad’s tenant railroads that have achieved required interoperability; and a host railroad’s expected date to submit its PTC safety plan to FRA, as required to obtain PTC system certification.

The FRA continues to direct additional staff resources to railroads at risk of not fully implementing an FRA-certified and interoperable PTC system on their required main lines by the deadline, FRA officials said in a press release.

In addition, the FRA is encouraging state departments of transportation and governors to help any at-risk commuter railroad within their states to ensure they have sufficient technical resources and support to meet the end-of-year deadline. 

“I’m pleased with the growing number of railroads that have reached critical milestones, and continue to encourage all of them to help each other overcome any remaining challenges from their respective lessons learned,” FRA Administrator Ronald Batory said.