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Despite funding concerns, U.S. commuter railroads are on schedule to meet the December 2018 deadline for implementing positive train control (PTC), the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) announced yesterday.As of 2016's end, 23 percent of the 3,150 route miles of commuter-rail track in the country were either in service with the technology or in full PTC demonstration mode awaiting Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) approvals, APTA officials said in a press release. That figure marks a slight increase from APTA's analysis in November 2016, when the association reported that 22 percent of commuter railroads' track was PTC ready.Also as of 2016's end, 30 percent of commuter railroads' 3,400 locomotives and cab cars were outfittted with PTC hardware, while 70 percent of the radio spectrum needed for PTC had been acquired.APTA's analyses were based on surveying association members and assessing the quarterly reports submitted to the FRA for 2016's last quarter. Although progress toward PTC implementation is being made, APTA officials reiterated funding for it is a "critical concern" to commuter-rail agencies. The technology is expected to cost the commuter-rail industry more than $3.5 billion in capital expenditures, including more than $16 million in spectrum acquisition. Congress has authorized $199 million for PTC implementation but hasn't appropriated the funds yet, according to APTA. "I urge Congress to quickly make available the $199 million authorized by the [Fixing America's Surface Transportation] Act for FY 2017 and consider providing additional resources to support industry efforts to meet the congressional deadline," said APTA Acting President and Chief Executive Officer Richard White.
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