Thursday, July 16, 2009

FRA Issues Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for PTC

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Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo announced Thursday proposed rules designed to prevent train collisions through the use of Positive Train Control (PTC). The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) prescribes how railroads must use PTC systems to prevent train-to-train collisions.

DOT and FRA noted that under the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, major freight railroads and intercity and regional rail operators must submit their plans for PTC to FRA for approval by April, 16, 2010.  PTC systems must befully in place by the end of 2015.  The proposed rules will specify how the technically complex PTC systems must function and indicate how FRA will assess a railroad’s PTC plan before it can become operational.

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“These proposed rules give railroads the framework to use this life-saving technology,” said LaHood (at right). “We believe this is an important step toward making freight, intercity and commuter rail lines safer for the benefit of communities across the country.”

“FRA is setting the bar high interms of design, construction, and oversight of PTC technologies among different railroads,” said FRA Administrator Szabo. “FRA will continue to advocate for ways to strengthen safety standards in the railroad industry.”

FRA is coordinating efforts with the Federal Communications Commission to make a sufficient amount of radio frequency spectrum available, which it said is essential for PTC technology to function properly.  DOT and FRA said this development will allow PTC technology to send and receive a constant stream of wireless signals regarding the location and speed of passenger and freight trains moving along rail lines.