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Rail research foundation obtains FRA grant to continue PTC system tests


The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) recently awarded a $6.4 million grant to the Railroad Research Foundation in Washington, D.C., to help fund field tests of a Positive Train Control (PTC) system.

The PTC system is designed to automatically keep trains within track speed limits, identify other trains and obstructions ahead of a train, and stop a train if an engineer fails to take corrective action after receiving a safety hazard warning.

The foundation is testing the system on a 120-mile segment of track between Springfield, Ill., and St. Louis, Mo., used by freight and passenger trains. Foundation officials are trying to verify the proper transmission of electronic data between on board, trackside and dispatch center equipment to automatically control train movement.

The research grant supports the ongoing North American Joint PTC program — which began in 1998 — involving the FRA, state of Illinois, Union Pacific Railroad, Association of American Railroads and Amtrak.

“PTC technology promises fewer train accidents and increased safety for the communities where railroads operate,” said FRA Administrator Joseph Boardman in a prepared statement.

In March, the FRA issued revised PTC rules — the first revision since 1984 — that establish minimum performance standards, and require railroads to deploy PTC systems that are compatible with one another, provide adequate employee training and improve record-keeping.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/24/2005