With 16 months left until the Congressionally mandated Dec. 31, 2020 deadline for full implementation of PTC (Positive Train Control), the U.S. railroad industry is drawing close, according to the Federal Railroad Administration’s Second-Quarter 2019 PTC Progress Report.
The 2008 Rail Safety Improvement Act (RSIA) required railroads that operate or host passenger trains (commuter/regional and intercity) to install Positive Train Control (PTC). The Commuter Rail Coalition (CRC) points out that, despite PTC requiring radio frequency spectrum for communication, “when commuter railroads needed to acquire spectrum, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) rebuffed requests to recognize the public safety mandate that required it, and told railroads to buy spectrum on the open market.”
We’re celebrating a whole lot this year. We’re celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, recognizing the right of women to vote. I know a few of us are celebrating the 155th anniversary of Sherman’s March to the Sea, breaking the back of the Slaveholders’ Rebellion.
The news on July 26, 2019 of the derailment at speed of Amtrak 393 at University Park, Ill., due to a careless truck driver created a PTSD-like reaction for me. Instantaneously, I thought back to the derailment of Amtrak 59 at Bourbonnais, Ill., the night of March 15, 1999. Despite denials, this wreck was due to the overt negligence of a driver attempting to beat fully functional grade crossing warning devices with a truck loaded with 22 tons of steel pipe. Regrettably, the driver’s reckless behavior resulted in 11 people killed; much equipment was destroyed in the ensuing fire.
Wabtec Corp. recently filed a 20,485,156 share offering of GE, and expects to grant the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 2,048,515 shares. Wabtec said it will not receive any proceeds from the sale of the shares in the offering.
Railway Equipment Co. (RECO) has named Russ Gehl as Chief Operating Officer, with leadership responsibility for all operations at the company’s headquarters in Minnesota. He rejoins RECO after serving as Vice President of Maintenance-of-Way Sales at Holland Company, “where he drove consistent growth for Class I and International,” the company said.
Commuter Rail Coalition chair and Metra CEO Jim Derwinski recently testified before the Senate Commerce Committee, where he requested a new grant program specifically for commuter railroads that are struggling to meet the resource demands of implementing Positive Train Control (PTC).
Karl Alexy has been named the Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety and Chief Safety Officer of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). He was most recently the FRA’s Deputy Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety and had responsibility for the Office of Safety Analysis, the Office of Technical Oversight and the Office of Regional Operations.