LaHood Announces Recipients of New Railroad Safety Technology Grants

WASHINGTON — U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that seven projects will share $50 million to help make the nation’s rail system safer by facilitating deployment of Positive Train Control (PTC) collision avoidance systems and other advanced technologies.

The projects will receive money through the new Railroad Safety Technology Grant (RSTG) program.

PTC systems use Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to monitor and control a train’s movements, in order to enforce speed limits, prevent train collisions and, help keep rail workers safe.

Awards vary in size and scope ranging from $500,000 to $21 million, and include private corporations, academic institutions and public authorities.

“Safety is our highest priority,” said Secretary LaHood. “This new program will help keep the rails safer by accelerating installation of positive train control technology where it is most needed.”

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) received 41 grant applications requesting more than $228 million. Decisions on the competitively awarded grants were based on technical merit, including the extent to which a project helps achieve interoperability between technologies, and the recipient’s project management capabilities and financial commitment to share costs.

Noting that all railroads will benefit from the work funded by the program, Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo said, “We are funding projects that confer the greatest benefits to the entire railroad community.”

FRA issued a Notice of Funding Availability on March 29, 2009 inviting applications from passenger and freight railroads, industry suppliers and state and local governments. Notably, the program requires that selected projects be ready for deployment within 24 months of receiving a grant award and that grantees share 20 percent of the total cost. Recipients must also have received FRA approval of a Technology Implementation Plan and PTC Implementation Plan, or successfully demonstrated that they could do so.

The RSTG program was authorized by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA), which imposed a statutory deadline of December 31, 2015 for PTC implementation on mainline tracks that carry passenger trains and certain hazardous material shipments. The selected projects are distinct and will help achieve resolution of technical challenges affecting all stakeholders.