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Rail News: Positive Train Control

New law allows Alaska Railroad to issue bonds to cover PTC costs


Alaska Gov. Bill Walker earlier this week signed into law a bill that will allow the Alaska Railroad Corp. to issue $37 million in tax-exempt bonds to help fund the railroad's implementation of positive train control (PTC).

The legislation, HB 140, was introduced by state Rep. Steve Thompson (R-Fairbanks) and passed during the first session of the 29th Alaska Legislature.

"When Congress passed this [PTC] mandate in 2008, funds were not appropriated to help railroads comply with the new standards," Walker said. "I'm pleased that the Alaska Railroad came forward with a recommendation to help solve this problem."

The federally mandated PTC legislation requires railroads to install and implement the crash-prevention technology by Dec. 31 of this year. Many railroads have indicated they will not be able to implement the still-evolving technology by the current deadline. In recent months, lawmakers in Congress have proposed extending the deadline by two to five years.

Alaska Railroad is in the process of upgrading its communications infrastructure to accommodate PTC, according to a report on the railroad's website. The company's PTC plans call for existing communications tower and site upgrades, as well as new communications tower and site installation, to be completed this year. Initial operations are scheduled for 2016.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/8/2015