Department of Transportation reminds railroads to meet year-end Positive Train Control requirements

Citing concerns that many of the nation’s railroads are not on pace to implement Positive Train Control (PTC) systems before a year-end deadline, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chow recently urged railroads to heed congressionally mandated milestones for implementation.

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Under the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, Class I railroads and railroads that operate intercity and commuter passenger rail on a regular basis are required to implement PTC systems by Dec. 31. 2018.

However, just eight of 37 railroads required to install PTC systems on their own tracks had received conditional PTC System Certification from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) by the end of 2017. By September, 12 railroads reported that all required PTC system hardware had been installed — and another 12 railroads reported that less than 50 percent of required hardware had been installed, according to U.S. Department of Transportation data.

“Advancing the implementation of Positive Train Control is among the most important rail safety initiatives on the department’s agenda,” Chao said. “The FRA leadership has been directed to work with your organization’s leadership to help create an increased level of urgency to underscore the imperative of meeting existing expecta­tions for rolling out this critical rail-safety technology.”

PTC implementation must be achieved within the regulatory timeline established by Congress, Chow warned. The deadline was already extended once in 2015 under the Positive Train Control Enforcement and Implementation Act.