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Rail News: Positive Train Control

Pan Am Southern, Pan Am Railways seek resolution with MBTA over PTC dispute


Pan Am Southern LLC (PAS) and Pan Am Railways (PAR) earlier this week served default and dispute notices concerning operational safety agreements with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA).

The news comes after the MBTA disavowed a 2014 positive train control (PTC) agreement it signed with the two railroads. The pact was aimed at enabling a PTC system to be in place by Dec. 31, 2018, the federal deadline for PTC implementation, Pan Am officials said in a press release.

MBTA's decision to renege on the promise raises questions about the three entities' ability to implement PTC on Boston-area rail lines by the deadline, according to the release.

The agency's action also "throws into doubt the continuation of commuter service on those lines beyond that date," Pan Am officials said.

In addition to providing service on its own lines, MBTA performs commuter service on properties owned by PAS. The 2014 agreement governs installation of PTC over all jointly operated MBTA, PAS and PAR lines.

Since the 2014 agreement was executed, PAR and PAS have "acted in reliance" on the pact to ensure safe and compliant passenger services. MBTA had "repeatedly" progressed and affirmed plans for PTC installation in accordance with the agreement, but Pan Am officials are concerned that the agency's recent disavowal could set back design and implementation of the technology by several years.

PAS and PAR plan to work cooperatively with the MBTA to implement a joint freight- and passenger-rail PTC system as soon as possible.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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