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The race to finish PTC

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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2018 or 2020, whatever the case may be, isn’t very far off. According to a Positive Train Control implementation chart published on the Federal Railroad Administration website, 30 out 37 U.S. freight and passenger railroads required to have PTC—roughly 80%—will have the technology in place by the year-end 2018 extended deadline.

The remaining 7—Central Florida Rail Corridor, CN, CSX, Norfolk Southern, MBTA and Metra—will need to take advantage of the available 2020 deadline, according to FRA.

“The freight rail industry continues to work all out on PTC testing and installation and to move this complex safety system from concept to nationwide reality on roughly 60,000 miles of track as quickly as possible,” said Association of American Railroads President and CEO Ed Hamberger. “The PTC technology being installed is revolutionary and is a full-time focus of the nation’s freight railroads, their employees, manufacturers, software designers and safety experts.”

“About $6 billion has been spent on PTC so far by Class I freight railroads,” said Hamberger. “We expect the range to be $9-$10 billion by the time PTC is fully in place. The technology is not-off-the shelf. It had to be developed from scratch and isn’t just about plugging in or turning on components. It is a complex step-by-step process, both in terms of safety engineering and implementation. Field testing of PTC is essential for safely deploying the technology and will be a critical focus for the rail industry this year. Currently, rail operators are discovering failure rates of up to 40% as they install and test PTC equipment in PTC labs and designated pilot territories, underscoring the importance of proper testing. PTC technology will be overlay systems, meaning they will supplement existing train safety checks and balances. The AAR’s State of the Industry Report shows America’s freight railroads are firmly committed to an even safer rail network through ongoing innovation and investment—$600 billion since 1980, averaging about $25 billion a year over the past five years.”

See below to download a high-resolution PDF copy of the FRA’s implementation chart (pictured above).

Click HERE to go to the FRA PTC website area.

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