Posts Tagged ‘PTC deadline’

FRA Says PTC Deadline Has Been Met

December 30, 2020

The Federal Railroad Administration said this week that all railroads required to do so have met the deadline for installation and implementation of positive train control.

PTC is in operation on all of the 57,536 routes miles required to have it.

This includes rail lines that handle intercity or commuter passengers on a regular basis, certain hazardous materials, and Class 1 railroad mainlines that see more than 5 million gross tons of annual traffic.

The mandate for the installation of PTC was part of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

Federal law gave the railroad industry a deadline of Dec. 31, 2020, to install and place PTC systems into operation.

In a news release, the FRA said this meant the FRA had certified not only that PTC was in operation but also that PTC systems had achieved interoperability.

This means a PTC system used by a tenant railroad such as Amtrak is compatible with the PTC system of a host railroad such as CSX.

PTC is designed to prevent train-to-train collisions, overspeed derailments, work-zone accidents, and incidents involving improperly lined switches.

Implementation of PTC involved seven Class I railroads, Amtrak, 28 commuter railroads, and five other freight railroads that host regularly scheduled intercity or commuter rail passenger service.

Also involved in the effort were industry associations, suppliers and other service providers who have been working for more than a decade to develop, install, test and oversee the operation of PTC systems.

FRA certification means a PTC system complies with the required technical requirements contained in federal law or FRA regulations.

Most railroads have been in compliance with federal law and regulations for several months with 99.6 percent of those affected by the PTC mandate having complied by the end of the third quarter of this year.

FRA Reports Continued Progress in PTC Implementation

August 2, 2019

The Federal Railroad Administration reported this week that positive train control is in place on nearly 90 percent of the route miles subject to the federal mandate as of June.

FRA Administrator Ronald Batory told a Senate committee that despite that progress there remains “significant work” to be done to fully implement PTC the end of 2020.

“Nonetheless, railroads must still complete significant work to full implement their PTC systems by Dec. 31, 2020, especially with respect to activating PTC systems on the remaining required main lines and achieving the necessary interoperability with their tenant railroads,” Batory said in his prepared statement.

Through the end of June PTC was in operation on 87 percent of the 58,000 route miles subject to the federal PTC mandate, based on preliminary reports railroads provide the FRA.

Batory told the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation that is a 4 percent increase from the first quarter.

PTC systems are being tested in revenue service demonstration on at least 718 route miles.

Eleven freight railroads, 30 commuter railroads and Amtrak are subject to the PTC mandate.

Among the highlights of the latest PTC report are:

• Class I railroads report that PTC is in operation on 91 percent of their required main lines, which represented a 4 percent increase from the first quarter.

• Host commuter railroads have PTC in revenue service on 443 route miles and in RSD testing on 718 route miles, which represented 37 percent of their 3,111 PTC-required route miles and a 12 percent increase since the first quarter.

• Amtrak, as a host railroad on and near the Northeast Corridor and other parts of the country, reported 899 of its 900 required route miles are governed by PTC. Operations are governed by PTC on 84 percent of route miles where Amtrak operates as a tenant on other railroads’ PTC-equipped main lines.

• Six short line or terminal railroads must implement PTC on their own main lines that provide or host regularly scheduled intercity or commuter passenger rail service. One of those six has been operating its FRA-certified and interoperable PTC system in revenue service since 2018, while the other five are conducting FRA-approved field testing of their PTC systems on the general rail network. They expect to begin RSD during the third quarter.

• Batory said host railroads reported 17 percent of tenant railroads that operate on their PTC-required main lines had achieved interoperability as of March 31.

• Host railroads also reported 33 percent of their applicable tenant railroads were installing PTC hardware and 38 percent had advanced to interoperability testing as of March 31.

“The FRA is currently directing its focus and resources to the PTC-mandated main lines that have a high concentration of host railroads and tenant railroads, including commuter railroads with significant remaining work, such as the PTC-mandated main lines in the Northeast, Chicago area, Florida and Texas,” Batory said.

FRA Status Report Shows PTC Progress Continuing

February 16, 2019

In its latest status report, the Federal Railroad Administration said all railroads affected by a Dec. 31, 2018, statutory deadline to install positive train control met the mandate of full implementation or submitting requests demonstrating they had met or exceeded the statutory criteria for an alternative schedule.

The latter would enable the carriers to have two additional years to complete full implementation.

Under federal law, 41 railroads, including passenger rail agencies, were required to meet the Dec. 31 deadline.

In a news release, the FRA said it drew its conclusion about compliance based on self-reported data from the affected railroads.

The FRA said all railroads satisfied the six statutory criteria necessary to qualify for an extension.

PTC was in operation in the fourth quarter of 2018 on 46,000 of the 58,000 route miles where the technology systems must be deployed.

PTC systems were in revenue service demonstration on an additional 288 route miles.

The key remaining steps for full PTC implementation includes conducting revenue service demonstration (advanced testing on the general rail system), submitting a PTC Safety Plan and obtaining PTC System Certification from the FRA, achieving interoperability between host railroads and tenant railroads, and activating the PTC system so it governs all operations on the required main lines.

The latest status report showed that as of Dec. 31, 2018, host railroads’ operations are governed by a PTC system on 83 percent of the freight railroad route miles subject to the mandate and 30 percent of the required passenger railroad route miles.

Of approximately 233 host-tenant railroad relationships, 16 percent have reportedly achieved PTC system interoperability as of Dec. 31, which means the locomotives of a host railroad and a tenant railroad operating on the same main line can communicate with and respond to the PTC system, including uninterrupted movements over property boundaries.

The FRA said it has conditionally certified 12 host railroads’ PTC systems, based on their PTC Safety Plans; two PTC Safety Plans are currently under review; and 23 additional PTC Safety Plans must be submitted by June 2020.

Thirty-three railroads have submitted a written notification formally requesting FRA’s review and approval of an alternative schedule and sequence, and as of Feb. 11 the agency had formally approved 25 requests.

FRA Holds 1st of 6 PTC Seminars

February 9, 2019

The Federal Railroad Administration this week held its first “collaborative sessions” involving the 41 railroads responsible for implementing positive train control under federal law.

It was the first of six such planned session and focused on the steps that railroads must take by the end of 2020 in order to achieve a fully interoperable system.

FRA personnel also described the agency’s approach to certifying  PTC systems and provided an update on best practices and lessons learned from the various systems being tested or already in place.

They also took questions from railroad representatives on technical and regulatory matters.

Also speaking at the session was U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

“The sooner you get there [PTC implementation], the sooner our country will be able to realize all of the safety benefits of PTC,” she said. “I encourage you to head into these next two years with that goal — to obtain certification and achieve interoperability with your tenant railroads as soon as possible.”

Chao said DOT understands the PTC implementation challenges facing railroads and will do whatever it can to help them succeed, including funding through grant and loan programs.

“In addition, the FRA has taken steps to ensure it has the necessary human resources to respond to your needs and turn critical documents around in a timely fashion,” she said. “And the FRA will continue to collaborate with you in forums like these, and on an individual basis.”

UP Completes PTC Installation on Required Routes

February 7, 2019

Positive train control systems have been installed on all Union Pacific route miles that are required by law to have it.

In a news release, UP said this included passenger train routes.

The carrier said it is now seeking to ensure that PTC will be interoperable with other freight and passenger railroads operating on its tracks by the federal government’s deadline of Dec. 31, 2020.

UP said that in the last three months of 2018 it had trained 606 employees on PTC operations, bringing the total number of employees trained to 26,610, or 100 percent.

It also during that period of time increasing by 1,095 the number of PTC implemented PTC route miles, bringing the total number of route miles in PTC operations to 13,015 or 76 percent.

Four out of the five passenger-rail carriers are now operating PTC-equipped trains over UP lines.

With the Federal Railroad Administration’s conditional approval of its PTC safety plan in April 2017, UP now is running PTC operations on more than 13,000 miles in 21 states.

NTSB: No More PTC Delays

February 5, 2019

The National Transportation Safety Board said any further delays in stalling positive train control systems will continue to put passengers at risk of being involved in accidents caused by human errors.

NTSB members were critical of how federal officials have granted additional time to the railroad industry to install PTC.

“There should be no more extensions on PTC,” NTSB member Jennifer Homendy said at a event in which the board named PTC as one of its 10 most wanted reforms to improve transportation safety.

The list also includes measures designed to eliminate drunk and distracted driving.

Although railroads faced a Dec. 31, 2018, deadline to install PTC, the law also allows railroads to seek a two-year waiver from the Federal Railroad Administration if they met specified criteria for PTC installation as of that date.

Four of the 41 railroads subject to the PTC mandate had fully installed PTC as of the deadline with 34 others seeking or having been granted waivers.

The Association of American Railroads said in January that PTC is fully installed across on all its member railroads and operable on 83 percent of those route miles.

Homendy, though, acknowledged that train travel is “generally” safe.

“It’s one of the safest modes of transportation,” she said. “But the risk of a PTC preventable accident is still there.”

She also conceded that the equipment, radio frequencies and staff training needed to implement in PTC is expensive, “but in our view there’s a greater cost to losing a life.”

4 Railroad Fully PTC Compliant

January 3, 2019

The Federal Railroad Administration has said that four railroads as of Dec. 31 have fully implemented positive train control systems while other carriers required by law to adopt PTC technology have formally requested a two-year extension.

Forty-one railroads were required by federal law to implement PTC or meet FRA requirements to receive a two-year deadline extension known as “alternative schedule.”

The four fully-compliant railroads are North County Transit District, Metrolink, the Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation, and the Portland & Western Railroad.

Those carriers have said they have a fully implemented PTC system in operation on their required mainlines and all their trains are governed by a PTC system, including tenant railroads’ trains.

The FRA said that 37 railroads are seeking extensions, including seven Class I carriers. The group also includes 25 intercity passenger and commuter railroads, and five short-line or terminal railroads.

Twelve railroads have obtained conditional PTC system certification from the FRA, which permits them to operate PTC in revenue service.

There are now 41,000 route miles under PTC operation, which is 71 percent of the route miles that are subject to the federal mandate.

CN Says It has Met PTC Installation Requirements

December 28, 2018

Canadian National said it has met on its U.S. route all of the federal requirements for installation of positive train control equipment and is seeking from the Federal Railroad Administration a two-year extension to achieve complete PTC operability

By law the FRA can grant such extensions for railroads that have installed all hardware, acquired the necessary radio spectrum, and initiated PTC on more than half of their required mileage.

CN said it has installed 1,662 radio towers, trained all 5,614 employees required, installed hardware on 586 locomotives and 35 required track segments, and initiated PTC on 19 of those track segments, or 54 percent.

The railroad is spending $1.4 billion on PTC installation on its 3,100 route-miles in the U.S.

Railroads Continue to Make PTC Progress, FRA Says

November 26, 2018

The latest positive train control implementation report by the Federal Railroad Administration shows that just five railroads are at risk of missing a Dec. 31 deadline with all five of them passenger operations.

The at-risk railroads as of Sept. 30 are Amtrak, the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Altamont Corridor Express, New Jersey Transit and Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (Caltrain).

The FRA said those carriers own or control about 1,302 of the 58,000 route miles subject to the PTC mandate.

In its latest report, the FRA said 24 railroads had installed all of their system hardware, 11 others had installed between 95 percent and 99 percent of the required hardware, and all railroads have acquired sufficient radio spectrum.

In a news release the FRA said more than three dozen freight and commuter railroads qualify for a two-year deadline extension because they have met statutory regulations.

The FRA considers any railroad that has installed less than 95 percent of system hardware to be at risk of not meeting either the Dec. 31, or the statutory extension criteria.

At the end of the third quarter of 2018, the FRA said, PTC was in operation on 71 percent of freight railroads’ required route miles and 26 percent of commuter railroads’ required route miles.

Amtrak Walks Back PTC ‘No Operation’ Pledge

September 17, 2018

Amtrak appears to have done an about face on an earlier vow to refuse to operate passenger trains on routes that lack an operating positive train control by Dec. 31.

During a hearing of a House committee, Amtrak Chief Operating Officer Scot Naparstek said the carrier will seek a deadline extension from the Federal Railroad Administration in order to operate all its trains.

Naparstek told the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials that Amtrak decided to seek the extension because of interoperability issues with other railroads that operate on Amtrak tracks and with railroads whose tracks Amtrak uses.

“When 2019 arrives, we will have our track, computer, training and locomotive PTC work complete and will be operating PTC across all of the tracks we control and across much of the host railroad network,” Naparstek said.

Naparstek said 222 of Amtrak’s 315 daily trains now operate with PTC on some or all of their routes. That figure is expected to rise to 283 by Dec. 31 when the railroad industry faces a federal deadline to implement PTC or qualify for an extension of up to two years.

Amtrak is studying how it might operate on rail lines that do not have PTC in place by next January.

Naparstek said the carrier’s goal is to continue to operate all its current routes.

“Exactly how we accomplish this will vary across our network, based on the specifics of each route,” he said. “But . . . we believe we will have strategies in place that will permit us to continue operations until operational PTC or PTC-equivalency is achieved for all our network.”

He describes the interoperability of PTC whereby the PTC equipment of one railroad works on another railroad’s routes, as a work in progress.

In a follow-up statement, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said, “The testimony makes it clear Amtrak is planning to operate the current network in the coming fiscal year, with additional safety actions for some segments, as we strive for the goal of positive train control or an equivalent on all our routes.”

That suggests that Amtrak will not discontinue operating trains that use routes that lack a fully functioning PTC system.

Naperstek also said Amtrak is working with tenant railroads on the Northeast Corridor and other Amtrak-owned lines to ensure that they are able to maintain their operations.

“Our aim is to ensure that all of our tenants have an operational system as soon as possible,” he said. “We are mindful of the impacts that any disruption of commuter service may have on the regions we serve and the potential safety consequences that could follow.”

In progress report, Naperstek said that through Sept. 10, Amtrak had installed PTC systems on  88 of its locomotives required for revenue service.

Furthermore, 122 of 142 installations have been made on 114 state-owned locomotives and cab cars that Amtrak operates or maintains.

He also said that 53 units are being tested and are PTC operable; eight of 11 installation/track segments have been completed; 132 of 140 radio towers are fully installed and equipped; all employees required to be trained in PTC operations have been trained; 607 of 901 route-miles are in PTC operation, and 480 route-miles are in testing.

Naperstek’s testimony was in contrast to the remarks of Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson during a February House Railroad Subcommittee hearing at which Anderson said Amtrak would not operate trains on lines not equipped with fully operational PTC in 2019 if its host freight railroads failed to meet the Dec. 31 interim deadline for installation. He also said that Amtrak would prohibit non-PTC-compliant equipment from operating on the lines it owns, primarily on the Northeast Corridor.