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Rail News: Positive Train Control

FRA updates Congress on PTC status, says most railroads will miss deadline

Most railroads will miss the federally mandated Dec. 31 deadline to implement positive train control (PTC), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) said in a detailed report to Congress late last week.

The news came as no surprise, as both the FRA and railroad industry leaders have indicated in prior reports and announcements that most railroads will not meet the deadline.

"The Federal Railroad Administration will continue to use its resources and expertise to help railroads achieve the critical goal to have positive train control implemented," FRA Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg said in a prepared statement announcing the latest report's release.

According to the report, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) estimates that as of June, Class Is have completed or partially completed installing more than 50 percent of locomotives that require PTC equipment; deployed 50 percent of wayside units; replaced 50 percent of signals; and completed most of the required mapping for PTC tracks.

By Dec. 31, AAR projects that 39 percent of locomotives will be fully equipped; 76 percent of wayside interface until will be installed; 67 percent of base station radios will reinstalled; and 34 percent of required employees will be trained.

According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), 29 percent of commuter railroads are targeting Dec. 31 for completion of PTC installation. Full implementation of PTC for all commuter lines is projected by 2020, the report states.

APTA President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Melaniphy said the commuter-rail industry is "100 percent committed" to implementing PTC, but has faced funding challenges in acquiring and installing the technology, as well as significant challenges in acquiring the necessary radio spectrum required for PTC implementation.

"The commuter rail industry has already spent $950 million on PTC implementation and conservative estimates are that $3.48 billion is needed to complete implementation nationwide," he said. "Currently, Congress has only appropriated $50 million for this critical federal safety technology."

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