Railroads Complete ‘Landmark’ Achievement with PTC Installation

Just after sunrise, an eastbound Norfolk Southern train passes beneath the former Pennsylvania Railroad signals at Lilly, Pa., on June 4, 2019. These signals were replaced as part of PTC. Photo by Steve Barry.

Railroads Complete ‘Landmark’ Achievement with PTC Installation

By Railfan & Railroad

WASHINGTON — Federal and industry officials are hailing the news that Positive Train Control has been fully installed on the American rail system as a “landmark” achievement. After more than 12 years of work and two deadline extensions, the Federal Railroad Administration certified the last railroad’s system, NJ Transit, on Dec. 18. The certification came less than two weeks before the long-awaited Dec. 31 deadline. 

PTC systems are designed to prevent train-to-train collisions, over-speed derailments, incursions into established work zones, and movements of trains through switches left in the wrong position. Congress mandated that railroads install the technology in 2008 following a deadly head-on wreck in Chatsworth, Calif. Railroads that hosted passenger trains and certain hazardous materials were subject to the mandate. Seven Class I railroads, Amtrak, 28 commuter railroads, and five other freight railroads all installed the technology in coordination with the FRA. 

“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 L. Chao.

Not all railroads were required to install it but some, like Montana Rail Link, have announced that they see the benefits of the safety system and will be installing it as well in the future. Freight railroads say they now plan to take advantage of the technology to find more efficiencies within their systems. Some have said PTC could be the precursor to reducing crew sizes. 

“America’s railroads have reached an important milestone this year that will enhance safety and springboard innovation long into the future,” said Ian Jefferies, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads. “While the industry is proud of this accomplishment, the job is never finished. Railroads will remain forward-looking and continue advancing safety through innovation and technology.”

This article was posted on: December 30, 2020