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FRA updates on PTC: “Uneven progress”

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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The Federal Railroad Administration on Nov. 28 released third quarter 2016 data submitted by railroads on their progress in implementing Positive Train Control (PTC). The FRA says the "data show uneven progress across the country and across railroads toward activating the life-saving technology."

The FRA reports “freight railroads now have PTC active on 12% of their tracks, up from 9% last quarter. Passenger railroads increased their percentage to 23% this quarter compared to 22% last quarter. The measurable progress made by passenger railroads has been predominately on the West Coast, while East Coast railroads, other than SEPTA and Amtrak, have remained relatively stagnant.”

“Passenger and freight railroads must continue their progress implementing Positive Train Control and work to beat the deadlines Congress set – because PTC saves lives,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

FRA says the Q3 2016 status update includes railroad-by-railroad quarterly data as of Sept. 30, 2016, and includes data such as track segments completed, locomotives equipped, employees trained, radio towers installed, route miles in PTC operation and other key implementation data.

“In order to achieve full PTC implementation, everyone has to do their part – railroads must make implementation a priority, and Congress must make funding for commuter railroads a priority,” said FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg.

Since 2008, the FRA says “it has provided significant assistance to support railroads’ PTC implementation.” The FRA lists these efforts:

· FRA has provided more than $716 million to passenger railroads, including nearly $400 million in Recovery Act funding.

· Issued a nearly $1 billion loan to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to implement PTC on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North.

· Awarded $25 million in grant funding to railroads, suppliers and state and local governments. FRA says “many awards will help railroads achieve interoperability among the different PTC systems that railroads are deploying.”

· Made $199 million in grants available to commuter railroads in fiscal year 2017 to implement PTC.

· Building a PTC testbed at the Transportation Technology Center (TTC) in Pueblo, Colorado.

· Working directly with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to improve the approval process for PTC communication towers.

· Dedicating staff to work on PTC implementation, including establishing a PTC task force.











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