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Rail News: Positive Train Control

Virginia Railway Express mulls service disruptions due to PTC deadline


The Virginia Railway Express (VRE) is joining the growing list of commuter railroads that say they'll need to limit operations due to their inability to meet the Dec. 31 positive train control (PTC) deadline.

Without an extension for implementing the technology, VRE will need to suspend some, if not all, of its commuter-rail service in Virginia and Washington, D.C., after Dec. 31, the railroad announced yesterday.

On Tuesday, VRE received official notification from Norfolk Southern Railway that passenger trains will not be permitted to travel along its tracks because PTC will not be fully operational before the deadline. This would affect VRE's Manassas Line trains, which run from Bristow, Va., to the D.C.'s Union Station.

Doug Allen, chief executive officer of VRE, noted that the railroad remains "fully committed to implementing PTC," but that more time is needed.

"We've been briefing our Congressional delegation since July and they are fully supportive of extending the PTC deadline. It is vitally important that the extension is approved soon," he said.

VRE is spending $10.5 million to implement the technology, which includes the installation of onboard computers and radio equipment on its locomotives and cab cars. The commuter railroad anticipates substantially completing PTC equipment installations by the end of 2015, but it operates on CSX Transportation and NS tracks, which will not be PTC-ready by the deadline, VRE officials said.

Amtrak and Metra also have announced that they'll need to suspend some operations without a deadline extension. For a rundown on other railroads' tentative service disruptions, read this article from the October issue of Progressive Railroading.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/22/2015