FRA: Most Railroads Will Miss PTC Implementation Deadline

Most railroads will miss the Dec. 31  positive train control (PTC) deadline Congress established in 2008, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) said in a report to Congress.

“Positive Train Control is the most significant advancement in rail safety technology in more than a century,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a news release.

“Simply put: it prevents accidents and saves lives, which is exactly what we seek to do at The Department of Transportation every single day,” Foxx added. “We will continue to do everything in our power to help railroads install this technology.”

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) first called train control systems such as PTC in 1969. FRA officials said they were involved in creating PTC standards a decade before Congressional action, and in 2005, FRA issued its final rule establishing uniform PTC standards for railroads willing to install the technology.

PTC prevents train crashes, over-speed derailments, incursions into established work zone limits and a train going to the wrong track because a switch was left in the wrong position, according to the FRA.

Congress in 2008 passed the Rail Safety Improvement Act (RSIA), requiring all railroads that provide passenger service and all Class I railroads that transport poisonous-by-inhalation hazardous (PIH) or toxic-by-inhalation hazardous (TIH) materials to implement PTC by Dec. 31, 2015. To help railroads with the mandate, the FRA has handed out millions in tax dollars, including more than $650 million to passenger railroads.

“The Federal Railroad Administration will continue to use its resources and expertise to help railroads achieve the critical goal to have Positive Train Control implemented,” FRA Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg said in a news release.