The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) on Dec. 21 awarded $46.30 million in grant funding for 11 projects in 10 states to assist with deploying Positive Train Control (PTC) systems, marking the second selection of PTC systems deployment projects under the Fiscal Year 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act administered via the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program, collectively totaling $250 million.
“These grants not only help railroads continue to make progress implementing PTC, but they also show that we’re steadfast in our commitment to make investments in passenger rail and rural communities,” said FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory.
The CRISI Program was authorized by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act to provide funding “to improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of intercity passenger rail and freight rail transportation systems.” The FY 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act provided $592.6 million for the CRISI Program, with $250 million to be made available for PTC system deployment. On Aug. 24, 2018, FRA announced $203.7 million in grant awards for PTC implementation to 28 projects in 15 states.
In this second round of FY 2018 PTC CRISI grants, 100% of the funds will benefit passenger rail, with about 31% ($14 million) benefiting rural projects. The CRISI grant program “directs much-needed critical investment—at least 25% of available funds—to rural America,” FRA noted.
The awards will fund many aspects of PTC system implementation for intercity passenger or commuter rail and freight rail transportation, including back office PTC systems; wayside, communications, and onboard PTC system equipment; personnel training; PTC system testing; and interoperability.
FRA awarded grants in the approximate amounts below to the following programs and entities:
- AK – GPS Precision Upgrade for PTC (Up to $2,530,618); Alaska Railroad Corporation (ARRC). For this rural project, ARRC will procure a platform with software to improve the accuracy and functionality of the global positioning system (GPS) in ARRC’s locomotives and on-track equipment, and implement the vital functions for its Interoperable Electronic Train Management System (I-ETMS).
- CA – PTC Configuration Management and Office Segment Failover (Up to $3,976,560); Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (Caltrain). To implement Caltrain’s I-ETMS PTC system, this grant will fund the completion of a Caltrain PTC Configuration Management (CM) Plan and PTC Data Management Procedure; development of a CM tool that generates an audit trail for changes to configuration data and CM training on the configuration control and CM process; completion of the backup central control facility (BCCF) and Central Control Facility Failover Design and Test Plan; and completion of the design, test results, and as-built system for an Emergency Operation Center at the existing BCCF in Menlo Park, Calif.
- CA – Leveraging PTC to Increase Capacity and Reduce Headways and Alternative Vendor Analysis (Up to $3,150,000); Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA or Metrolink). This project will include a study for leveraging PTC to increase capacity and reduce headways, software development, PTC component upgrades, and/or corridor infrastructure upgrades to support the future implementation of Higher Reliability and Capacity Train Control (HRCTC) along Metrolink’s congested Orange County Line from Los Angeles Union Station to Oceanside, Calif.
- CO – PTC Installation for the Amtrak Southwest Chief on BNSF Railway Through Colorado and Kansas (Up to $9,157,600); Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). This rural project from CDOT, in collaboration with the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) and BNSF, includes the design, installation, and testing of I-ETMS PTC wayside technology on approximately 179 miles of a predominantly single-track route between Dodge City, Kan., and Las Animas, Colo.
- IL – PTC Kits and Spare Parts for 24 Additional Locomotives at Metra (Up to $2,058,163); Commuter Rail Division of the Regional Transportation Authority (Metra). The project includes purchasing and installing onboard I-ETMS PTC equipment on Metra’s 24 recently purchased locomotives.
- MA – MBTA PTC Implementation (Up to $7,548,335); Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). This project on the Needham Branch, Franklin Branch, and Worcester Line, includes two components: 1) Testing of Automatic Train Control (ATC), where the previously installed PTC/ATC equipment on each line is already wired, and the software is loaded, connected to the signal system, and activated. The testing is intended to confirm the equipment functions as designed and is ready for testing with a test train. 2) “Completion of Commissioning for the ATC Lines,” where final acceptance testing is performed, including interoperability and ATC system testing.
- NC – NCDOT Rolling Stock PTC Commissioning (Up to $584,080); North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). The project includes installing, testing, commissioning, and certifying I-ETMS PTC onboard technology on three NCDOT locomotives for operation in the Piedmont intercity passenger rail service, which operates between Raleigh and Charlotte, N.C.
- NJ – PTC Installation on Multilevel Cab Cars (Up to $6,542,353); New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJT). This project will install and test Advanced Speed Enforcement System II (ASES II) PTC onboard equipment on 33 new NJT multilevel cab cars for deployment along the Northeast Corridor, Montclair-Boonton, and Morris & Essex Lines in New Jersey.
- NM – New Mexico Rail Runner Express PTC/Wi-Fi Integration Project (Up to $2,496,842); Rio Metro Regional Transit District (Rio Metro). This rural project will restore the New Mexico Rail Runner Express (NMRX) system’s Wi-Fi network from an end-of-life, proprietary WiMAX system to a cross-compatible Long-Term Evolution (LTE) system, providing a redundant path of communication for its I-ETMS PTC system. The project will install 26 towers along the 96 miles of the NMRX system between Belen, N.M. and Santa Fe, N.M., including approximately 74 miles of the Albuquerque Subdivision and 22 miles of the Santa Fe Subdivision. Nine NMRX cab cars, 13 coach cars, and 15 NMRX stations will be equipped with the Wi-Fi technology necessary for its PTC system.
- NY – MTA Metro-North Railroad PTC Communications Testing (Up to $2,300,000); NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). This project will involve PTC system testing to measure communications system performance to predict, identify, and replicate communications issues affecting MTA’s Metro-North Railroad’s operations, as well as develop and validate mitigation approaches to address communications challenges along the Northeast Corridor.
- TX – Capital Metro E-ATC PTC Wayside Installation Project (Up to $5,957,151); Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro). This project includes the design, installation, and verification of the Enhanced Automatic Train Control PTC wayside system on the new tracks along Capital Metro’s Red Line in the cities of Austin, Cedar Park, Leander, and the surrounding Texas communities. The new project spans a 21-mile section along the Red Line on Capital Metro’s commuter rail corridor.
In 2008, Congress mandated implementation of PTC systems on the main lines of Class I railroads and entities providing regularly scheduled intercity or commuter rail passenger transportation over which hazardous materials are transported, or over which intercity or commuter rail passenger transportation is regularly provided. In October 2015, Congress extended the original PTC system implementation deadline from Dec. 31, 2015, to Dec. 31, 2018. In addition, Congress requires FRA to approve a railroad’s request for an “Alternative Schedule” with a deadline for full implementation beyond Dec. 31, 2018, but not later than Dec. 31, 2020, if the railroad demonstrates it has met the congressionally mandated criteria for an alternative schedule.