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Rail News: Positive Train Control

FRA: Railroads' PTC progress is 'uneven'


The Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) latest report on the status of positive train control (PTC) implementation shows "uneven progress" across the country and railroads toward activating the safety technology, the agency announced yesterday.

PTC is now active on 17 percent of freight railroad tracks as of third-quarter 2016, up from 9 percent in the second quarter. Passenger railroads increased their percentage to 23 percent in the third quarter, up from 22 percent in the second quarter, according to an FRA press release.

The most measurable progress made by passenger railroads has been predominantly on the West Coast, while East Coast railroads — other than Amtrak and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) — have been relatively stagnant, FRA officials said.

The third-quarter status update includes railroad-by-railroad quarterly data as of Sept. 30. The data include track segments completed, locomotives equipped, employees trained, radio towers installed and route miles in PTC operation.

Railroads have until Dec. 31, 2018 to implement PTC. Extensions are available under some circumstances until 2020's end.

"In order to achieve full PTC implementation, everyone has to do their part — railroads must make implementation a priority, and Congress must make funding for commuter railroads a priority," said FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg.

The FRA provided this link to view each railroad's PTC status.

In response to the FRA's latest status update, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) issued a statement noting that the report underscores the complexities of developing, installing and testing PTC technology. Implementing PTC on 60,000 miles of freight-rail track remains a priority, with Class Is "remaining on track at having PTC fully installed by the deadline," said AAR's statement.

"To this point, the freight-rail industry has invested more than $7.1 billion on this complex technology, spending $100 million a month on continuous development, testing and installation, with final costs expected to reach about $10.6 billion by the time it is fully operational," AAR said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/29/2016