FRA: PTC at 92.4%

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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Based on self-reported Third Quarter 2019 (Q3) PTC (Positive Train Control) Progress Reports, which were due to the Federal Railroad Administration by Oct. 31, 2019, the majority of the 42 railroads subject to the statutory implementation requirement are operating PTC systems in revenue service or in advanced field testing known as a revenue service demonstration (RSD).

As of Sept. 30, 2019, PTC systems are governing operations on 92.4% of all required route-miles. Specifically, Class I freight railroads report that PTC is in operation on 51,222 (95.4%) of their required route-miles, a 4% increase since Quarter 2. Host commuter railroads report they are operating PTC systems in revenue service or RSD on approximately 1,310 (42%) of their 3,129 required route-miles, a 5% increase since Quarter 2. Four host railroads and three tenant-only commuter railroads report having fully implemented PTC.

Amtrak, as a host railroad on and near the Northeast Corridor (NEC) and other parts of the country (including Chicago and Michigan), reports that approximately 899 (99.8%) of nearly 901 required route-miles are governed by a PTC system. Also, by law, six Class II (regional) or III (short line) or terminal railroads must implement PTC on their main lines that provide or host regularly scheduled intercity or commuter rail passenger transportation. One of these six has been operating its FRA-certified and interoperable PTC system in revenue service since 2018; one commenced RSD on its PTC-required main line during Q3; and the other four are currently conducting field testing on the general rail network in preparation for RSD.

“All railroads have committed to fully implementing PTC on their required main lines by Dec. 31, 2020,” FRA said. “With approximately 13 months remaining until the deadline set forth by Congress, Administrator Ron Batory and FRA’s PTC subject matter experts are monitoring all railroads’ progress on a regular basis, and providing technical support to railroads not yet in RSD. FRA continues to engage in a direct, sustained and intensive manner, with all stakeholders underscoring the importance of railroads’ achieving full implementation of FRA-certified and interoperable PTC systems on all required main lines by year-end 2020.

“PTC accomplishes two of the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) top priorities—safety and innovation—by vastly improving rail safety with industry-designed emerging technologies that can monitor speed and automatically stop a train to prevent specific human-error accidents. DOT has supported PTC implementation since the original 2008 mandate, providing technical support and administering more than $2.6 billion in grant funding and loan financing for freight, intercity and commuter railroads for PTC through numerous programs. That amount equates to approximately 18% of the railroad industry’s total estimated costs for initial PTC system implementation.”

“We remain steadfast in compelling and assisting railroads to successfully complete all steps necessary for full PTC implementation,” said Batory. “The magnitude of this undertaking is immense, but putting PTC systems into operation demands diligence and a continued sense of urgency.”

To view detailed infographics depicting railroads’ progress toward fully implementing PTC systems as of September 30, 2019, visit https://www.fra.dot.gov/ptc.

To view the public version of each railroad’s Quarterly PTC Progress Report (Form FRA F 6180.165, OMB Control No. 2130-0553) for Quarter 3 of 2019, visit each railroad’s PTC docket on https://www.regulations.gov/. Railroad PTC docket numbers are available at https://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0628.

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