3Q18 PTC stats show good progress

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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Federal Railroad Administration third-quarter 2018 Positive Train Control (PTC) data shows railroads’ “continued progress toward meeting the year-end deadline for fully implementing PTC systems or qualifying for an alternative schedule,” FRA said on Nov. 21.

Data as of Sept. 30, 2018 shows 24 railroads have installed 100% of the PTC system hardware required for implementation. Eleven other railroads have installed between 95% and 99% of the required hardware. All railroads using radio spectrum-based PTC have acquired sufficient spectrum. “In part due to efforts from FRA,” 3Q18 data shows a 67% decrease in the number of “at-risk” railroads, down to five from 15 at the end of 2017. This is also a 44% decrease in at-risk railroads since 2Q18. As of Sept. 30, PTC is in operation on 71% of freight railroads’ required route-miles, and 26% of passenger railroads’ required route-miles.

FRA considered any railroad that had installed less than 95% of its PTC system hardware to be at risk of not meeting either the congressionally mandated interim deadline of Dec. 31, 2018, or the statutory criteria necessary to qualify for an alternative schedule. Hardware installation is an initial phase of implementation, and only one of six statutory criteria required for an alternative schedule, which has a deadline of no later than Dec. 31, 2020.

The five at-risk railroads as of 3Q18 are the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Altamont Corridor Express, New Jersey Transit, Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (Caltrain), and Amtrak. Together, they own or control approximately 1,302 route-miles of the 58,000 route-miles subject to the statutory mandate.

“The progress made over the past year is a testament to what can be accomplished with proper focus and attention,” said FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory. “We encourage any railroads seeking an alternative schedule to submit their formal requests in a timely fashion.”

On Aug. 24, 2018, FRA announced $203 million in grant awards for PTC implementation to 28 projects in 15 states.

FRA is tracking at-risk railroads’ progress on a month-by-month basis; this information is posted at https://www.fra.dot.gov/Media/File/1326. Updates that railroads submitted at the end of October “show further significant progress,” FRA said. “Members of FRA’s senior staff will continue to work with railroads, helping them meet PTC requirements.

To view FRA’s detailed infographics regarding railroads’ progress toward fully implementing PTC systems as of Sept. 30, 2018, visit https://www.fra.dot.gov/ptc.

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