PTC in Operation on 98.5% of Required Class I Miles

Written by Andrew Corselli

At the conclusion of 2019, Positive Train Control (PTC) was in operation across 98.5% of the required Class I route miles, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

The nation’s largest railroads remain on track to meet the final deadline for full implementation of the critical safety technology—Dec. 31, 2020—with several railroads already operating the technology across their entire required PTC footprint, AAR said. For the remainder of this year, the Class I’s will continue to focus on testing to ensure that PTC systems are fully interoperable and work seamlessly across operations as railroads regularly run across each other’s tracks.

As of Dec. 31, 2019, Class I’s had invested $11.47 billion in the development, installation and implementation of PTC and had the technology in operation across 53,001 miles of the 53,676 miles of PTC-required track. As required by law, all seven railroads had installed all necessary wayside, back office and locomotive hardware; had all spectrum in place; and completed all necessary employee training as of Dec. 31, 2018.

What is required by law?
PTC as mandated by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA) must be designed to prevent four major types of train accidents:

  • Train-to-train collisions.
  • Derailments caused by excessive speed.
  • Unauthorized incursions by trains into sections of track where maintenance activities are taking place.
  • Movement of a train through a track switch left in the wrong position.

The statutory deadlines established by Congress required that by Dec. 31, 2018, Class I’s must have:

  • All hardware installed.
  • All radio spectrum acquired.
  • Over 50% of PTC territory or route miles implemented.
  • Training completed for all employees operating in PTC-enabled territory.

All Class I’s met the December 2018 requirements, which allowed them up to an additional 24 months to test and ensure the system is fully interoperable. By Dec. 31, 2020, all Class I’s must have:

  • Testing completed.
  • Full PTC implementation across the network.

“America’s freight railroads will finish the job on PTC by the final December 2020 deadline,” said AAR president and CEO Ian Jefferies. “PTC—coupled with other advanced technologies—drives down risk and fuels railroads’ next leap forward to ensure our people, infrastructure and equipment are safer than ever. Railroads are committed to an accident-free future, and fully implementing PTC continues our industry’s progress toward that ultimate target.”

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