FRA: New Jersey Transit, New Mexico Rail Runner Express at Risk of Missing PTC Deadline

A N.J. Transit train departs from Montvale, N.J. on Feb. 10, 2016.
A N.J. Transit train departs from Montvale, N.J. on Feb. 10, 2016. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

Nearly all railroads subject to the positive train control (PTC) mandate are operating their systems in revenue service or in advanced field testing, known as revenue service demonstration (RSD), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) said.

As of June 30, PTC technology remains to be activated on approximately 700 required route miles, according to railroads’ Second Quarter 2020 PTC Progress Reports. However, the FRA said two railroads are at risk of not fully implementing PTC on all required main lines by Dec. 31: New Jersey Transit and New Mexico Rail Runner Express.

“I am highly pleased by the amount of progress railroads have made moving toward fully implementing PTC systems,” FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory said in a news release. “While more work lies ahead, the significant advancements made thus far are encouraging. I applaud all railroads involved in this unprecedented effort for their intensive collaboration to get all concerned to the finish line.”

As of June 30, PTC systems were in RSD or in operation on approximately 56,846 route miles — 98.8 percent of the 57,537 route miles subject to the mandate. This represents a 0.7 percentage point increase since the first quarter of 2020 and indicates that PTC technology was activated on an additional 305 miles during the second quarter.

As previously reported, PTC systems are currently governing operations on all PTC-mandated main lines owned or controlled by Class I railroads and other freight host railroads. As of June 30, 2020, 76.1 percent of commuter railroads’ mandated route miles were governed by PTC technology— a 12.9 percentage point increase since the last quarter.

In addition, the railroad industry continues to make notable strides toward completing interoperability testing and meeting the interoperability requirements under the statute and FRA’s regulations. As of June 30, host railroads reported that interoperability has been achieved by 65.5 percent of the 220 applicable, host-tenant railroad relationships— a 17 percentage point increase since the first quarter of 2020.

The Department has provided approximately $3.4 billion in grants and loans to support the industry’s mandated implementation of PTC technology.

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