Thursday, May 10, 2012

PTC ruling will save "hundreds of millions"

Written by  Luther S. Miller, Senior Consulting Editor

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced Thursday major changes to regulations governing the installation of positive train control.

FRA Administrator Joseph C. Szabo said the changes "will provide greater flexibility to railroads and save hundreds of millions of dollars even as they improve rail safety."

"Under the revisions announced today," said a DOT statement, "railroads will no longer have to conduct risk analyses to obtain approval to not install PTC or take other costly risk mitigation measures on an estimated 10,000 miles of track that will not carry passenger trains or toxic inhalation hazard (TIH) commodities after December 2015. Railroads are expected to save approximately $335 million over the first five years, and up to $775 million over 20 years, by utilizing safety measures other than PTC, where appropriate."

The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA) mandates widespread installation of PTC systems by December 2015 on rail lines that carry at least five million gross tons of freight annually, on Class I railroads that ship TIH commodities, and on lines where intercity passenger rail and commuter service is regularly operated.