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Rail News: Positive Train Control

House bill would extend PTC deadline

A surface transportation funding bill being drafted today by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee contains a measure that would extend the positive train control (PTC) deadline for three years.

The bipartisan proposal, contained in the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015 (H.R. 3763), would extend the deadline for railroads to install PTC from Dec. 31, 2015, to Dec. 31, 2018. After that three-year extension, the transportation secretary would have the authority to extend the deadline on an individual basis for an additional two years.

The measure comes as railroad industry executives have been urgently calling on Congress to extend the deadline beyond the year’s end. Most railroads won’t have their PTC systems operating by then. As a result, many railroads have said they will have to cease operations on parts of their networks in order to comply with federal law.

Yesterday, some House members joined rail industry leaders to call on the rest of Congress to pass legislation that would give the industry more time to complete installation of the complex safety technology.

"I'm pleased that House and Senate negotiators came to an agreement [Tuesday] on an extension of the PTC mandate that sets the bar high for safety and holds the railroads' feet to the fire," said Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) in a press release. "There is no way the railroads can meet the Jan. 1 deadline, meaning America’s railroads would soon grind to a halt."

While granting the extension, Congress should "closely track the progress of the railroads to ensure that they are making sufficient investments in PTC so that they will complete installation as quickly as possible," Lipinski said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/22/2015