LEGISLATIVE REPORT, APRIL 2019 – Knock, knock. Who’s there? If at the door are those laboring in official Washington, the answer is, “many new faces”—new congressional committee chairs, regulators, association chiefs, lobbyists and labor negotiators. Does not danger dwell where unfamiliarity and uncertainty lurk?
Positive Train Control
“HOW SAFE ARE AMERICA’S RAILROADS? Lesley Stahl reports on a recent string of crashes on U.S. railroads and the delay in implementing life-saving technology that could have prevented them.” Oh brother. I think you know what CBS 60 Minutes reported on March 3. It’s not pretty. But in my humble opinion, the rail industry can take most of the responsibility for what turned out to be a damaging report, because no one in the rail industry wanted to go on camera. More on that later. Here, after the fact unfortunately, is my attempt to shed light on some of the misconceptions and negative picture of our industry the 60 Minutes program perpetuated.
The Federal Railroad Administration has awarded MTA Metro-North Railroad a grant of up to $2.3 million to support Positive Train Control (PTC) communications testing. The grant, part of the FRA’s Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program, will help Metro-North improve the performance of PTC radio spectrum utilization required to make PTC operational on the Northeast Corridor.
When building any radio system, the scarcest and most precious system component is not the radios, the antennas nor the towers, but available “clean” radio channels on which to transmit. That’s why specialized narrow-beam antennas can ease frequency planning and reduce interference for railroad communications.
Wheeling & Lake Erie and Herzog completed brake testing and preparations for Positive Train Control functionality in revenue service by the end of 2018.
The largest Canadian Class I railroad says it met its year-end deadline to install positive train control (PTC) equipment across its system, and is seeking a two-year extension “to complete deployment and interoperability.”
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.
Nothing says fundamental transformation quite like Norfolk Southern’s new Network Operations Center, a murmuring, windowless bunker where the Class I has aggregated its dispatching in downtown Atlanta.
New Jersey Transit announced Dec. 5 that Positive Train Control is “95% complete” toward meeting compliance with the Dec. 3, 2018 interim deadline. Concurrently, the agency launched “a new comprehensive communications initiative aimed at improving the customer experience” and announced a procurement for new multi-level railcars.
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.