Agreement Reached to Resolve PTC impasse in Kansas City that Threatened Amtrak Service

Amtrak said it has reached an “an agreement in principle” regarding installation of positive train control on the Kansas City Terminal Railway.

If implemented, it will end the threat that Amtrak would discontinue its Missouri River Runner service as well as the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief.

Those trains use a portion of the KCTR, which is Class III carrier jointly owned by Union Pacific and BNSF.

“We are hopeful we will soon finalize details of an equitable solution that achieves the installation and ongoing maintenance of PTC in the Kansas City Terminal area,” Amtrak said in a statement.

Amtrak had earlier estimated that it would cost $32 million to install PTC on the KCTR.

Although railroads such as KCTR and the Terminal Railway Association of St. Louis handle hazardous materials on run-through trains from their Class I connections, the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 doesn’t require the Class III roads to install PTC unless they host passenger trains.

KCTR refused to pay to install PTC and the Missouri Department of Transportation also declined to pick up the bill. Amtrak said it doesn’t have the money to pay for it either.

There has been a move in Congress to delay the deadline to implement PTC, but that movement stalled after the derailment of an Amtrak train in Philadelphia resulted in multiple fatalities. The deadline to install PTC is Dec. 31, 2015.

Eric Curtit, the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Administrator of Railroads and Multimodal Operations, said terms of the KCTR agreement are confidential.

He said that the KCTR agreement is likely to establish a framework to resolve the same issue regarding TRRA tracks in St. Louis used by the Missouri River Runner trains, the Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service trains and the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

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