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More than three dozen freight and commuter railroads continued to post progress in the third quarter toward either implementing positive train control (PTC) systems or qualifying for a two-year deadline extension, according to the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Q3 PTC data released last week.As of Sept. 30, 24 railroads had installed all of their system hardware, 11 others had installed between 95 percent and 99 percent of the required hardware, and all impacted railroads had acquired sufficient radio spectrum, FRA officials said in a press release. In addition, Q3 data shows only five “at-risk” railroads, down 67 percent from the 15 at 2017’s end and 44 percent from the nine at second quarter’s end, they said.The FRA considers any railroad that has installed less than 95 percent of system hardware to be at risk of not meeting either the federally mandated deadline of Dec. 31, or the statutory criteria necessary to qualify for an extension to 2020’s end. Hardware installation is one of six statutory criteria required to obtain an alternative implementation schedule.The five at-risk railroads as of Sept. 30 were Amtrak, the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Altamont Corridor Express, New Jersey Transit and Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (Caltrain). They collectively own or control about 1,302 of the 58,000 route miles subject to the PTC mandate, according to the FRA.“The progress made over the last year is a testament to what can be accomplished with proper focus and attention,” said FRA Administrator Ronald Batory. “We encourage any railroads seeking an alternative schedule to submit their formal requests in a timely fashion.”Also at Q3’s end, PTC was in operation on 71 percent of freight railroads’ required route miles and 26 percent of commuter railroads’ required route miles.The FRA continues to track at-risk railroads’ progress on a month-by-month basis. Updates that railroads submitted at October’s end show further implementation progress, FRA officials said.To learn more about railroads' PTC installation challenges and progress, read this article in Progressive Railroading’s October issue.