Administration Says Railroads Have Met Safety Technology Deadline

By | December 30, 2020

The U.S. Transportation Department announced Tuesday that anti-derailment technology positive train control, or PTC, is in operation on all required railroad route miles ahead of a Dec. 31 deadline set by Congress.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has certified that each host railroad’s PTC system complies with the technical requirements and is in place on all 57,536 required freight and passenger railroad route miles.

PTC systems are designed to prevent train-to-train collisions, over-speed derailments and other safety issues. The National Transportation Safety Board has said the technology could have prevented numerous fatal train crashes over the years.

“Achieving 100 percent PTC implementation is a tremendous accomplishment and reflects the department’s top priorities – safety, innovation, and infrastructure,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

After a deadly accident in Washington state in 2017, Chao urged the nation’s railroads and transit agencies to take all possible measures to meet PTC deadlines.

PTC systems are designed to prevent derailments caused by excessive speed.

In 2008, Congress mandated the implementation of PTC nationwide by the end of 2015, then extended that deadline until the end of 2018 when its installation became more complex than anticipated. The government could extend deadlines to 2020 to complete some aspects of the system.

In total, 41 railroads, the Amtrak passenger rail service, 28 commuter railroads, and five other freight railroads that host regularly scheduled intercity or commuter rail passenger service are subject to the mandate.

The FRA said the “accomplishment encompasses thousands of hours of testing and deployment, innovative technological solutions, and a tremendous amount of coordination among nearly 100 host and tenant railroads, railroad associations, material suppliers, and service providers.”

The Transportation Department provided approximately $3.4 billion in grant and loan funding to support railroads and other entities’ installation of PTC.

(Reporting by David Shepardson Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)

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