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Rail News: Positive Train Control

FRA: PTC operating on nearly all route miles as of Q2

"While more work lies ahead, the significant advancements made thus far are encouraging," said FRA Administrator Ronald Batory.
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As of June 30, positive train control (PTC) systems are governing operations on nearly 99 percent of all 57,537-PTC mandated rail route miles, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced yesterday.

The news is based on the railroads' quarterly reports on their progress toward implementing PTC systems on their railroads as required by federal law. As of the end of the second quarter, nearly all railroads subject to the federal mandate are operating their systems in revenue service or in advanced field testing, also known as revenue service demonstration (RSD), FRA officials said in a press release.

PTC technology remains to be activated on about 700 required route miles, they said. PTC systems were in RSD or in operation on 56,846 route miles, 98.8 percent on the miles subject to the mandate. That figure represents a 0.7 percentage point increase since first-quarter 2020 and indicates that PTC technology was activated on an additional 305 miles during the second quarter, according to the FRA.

"While more work lies ahead, the significant advancements made thus far are encouraging," said FRA Administrator Ronald Batory.

PTC systems are governing operations on all PTC mandated main lines owned or controlled by Class Is and other freight host railroads. As of June 30, 76.1 percent of commuter railroads' mandated route miles were governed by PTC technology, a 12.9-percent point increase since the previous quarter.

Moreover, host railroads reported that interoperability has been achieved by 65.5 percent of the 220 applicable host-tenant railroad relationships, a 17 percentage point increase since first-quarter 2020, FRA officials said.

Currently, the FRA considers two host railroads "at risk" of not fully implementing PTC on all required main lines by the federal government's Dec. 31, 2020, deadline: Those railroads are New Jersey Transit and New Mexico Rail Runner Express.

Two railroads — Chicago's Metra and TEXRail in Tarrant County, Texas — were removed from the at-risk list based on their "substantial progress" on their PTC implementation in Q2, FRA officials said. Both railroads have entered RSD on 100 percent of their required main lines, submitted their PTC  safety plans to the FRA and now are focused on completing interoperability by the Dec. 31 deadline.

"This is the kind of synergy, partnership and cooperation we want to encourage," Batory said. 

The FRA continues to direct additional staff resources to support railroads at risk of not meeting the PTC implementation deadline, he added.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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