Institute Asks Federal Railroad Administration to Reconsider Positive Train Control Rule

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Chlorine Institute is asking the Federal Railroad Administration to re-issue its Positive Train Control rule with a corrected cost-benefit analysis.

In January, the FRA announced regulations requiring that Positive Train Control (PTC) technology be installed on the nation’s major rail lines as well as commuter and intercity passenger rail routes. PTC is an integrated set of technologies that will help avert train-to-train collisions, derailments caused by excessive speed, accidents caused by human error or misaligned switches, and harm to roadway workers, according to the FRA.

However, The Chlorine Institute contends the rule underestimates the rule’s benefits, citing a CI-commissioned follow-up cost-benefit study by L. E. Peabody & Associates. The Chlorine Institute contends the analysis might allow railroads to impose on shippers of chlorine and other toxic inhalation hazard (TIH) chemicals an unfairly large share of the costs of applying PTC technology.

“[T]he railroads have already announced that they will attempt to recover their investment in PTC from those shippers offering TIH materials for rail movement,” CI President Arthur Dungan wrote in a petition filed March 16.

“These efforts will have a direct and substantial impact on prospective TIH rail shippers and a strong incentive to move TIH shipments from the safer rail mode to the less-safe highway mode of transportation,” Dungan added. “Certainly, TIH shippers also will be negatively impacted by the railroads rolling their PTC investments on regulated shipments into their regulatory rate base, thereby leading to a double recovery of PTC costs well into the future.”