By Railfan & Railroad Staff
WASHINGTON — With just six weeks to go before the long-awaited deadline, Positive Train Control has been installed on 99.6 percent of the 57,537 route miles subject to the federal mandate to install the crash-prevention technology.
However, one railroad — New Jersey Transit — is lagging behind the rest and is at risk of being shut down or facing huge fines from the Federal Railroad Administration. As of Sept. 30, the railroad only had PTC in use on 48 percent of its network, according to data from the FRA. The agency states NJT is the only railroad in the country that is “at risk” of missing the deadline. If it does it could be forced to pay the FRA $27,000 every day past the Dec. 31 deadline or be forced to shut down. Federal officials have said that they are meeting with NJT frequently and are offering help to make sure the railroad meets the deadline.
But NJT officials counter that they are doing better than what the feds are saying and that the 48 percent figure is outdated. In early November, NJT’s PTC contractor said it had closer to 80 percent of its PTC system in revenue service demonstration (RSD), which is the final phase of testing. “We are on target for completion on or before Dec. 31, 2020,″ said PTC project manager Terry Fetters.
As of Sept. 30, PTC systems were in RSD or in operation on approximately 57,314 route miles of track. PTC technology was activated on an additional 468 miles during the third quarter, according to federal officials.
“Full implementation of PTC is in sight, owing to everyone’s unparalleled cooperation and determination,” said FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory. “I’m incredibly proud of the intensive collaborations we have forged. Once complete, railroads, rail workers, and rail passengers will all benefit from this transformational accomplishment in railroad safety.”
PTC was mandated in 2008 following a deadly head-on wreck in Chatsworth, Calif., that federal officials say could have been avoided with modern signal technology.