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FRA Releases Positive Train Control Report

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) recently released a status update on the progress reported by railroads toward full implementation of positive train control (PTC) systems as mandated by Congress (FRA Publishes Railroads’ First Quarter 2019 Positive Train Control Implementation Status Updates). A commitment to PTC is part of the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) effort to make safety its top priority. 

According to the First Quarter 2019 PTC Progress Reports submitted to the FRA, PTC systems had been implemented on over 48,000 of the 58,000 mandated route miles – a 3% increase over the fourth quarter of 2018.  Railroads are also in the process of conducting advanced field tests called revenue service demonstration (RSD) on more than 340 additional route miles. 

The FRA will continue to conduct regulatory oversight of the railroads’ effort to meet the December 31, 2020, deadline by providing technical assistance to the railroads and coordinating with the manufacturers of PTC system components. “We will maintain our laser-like focus on this rail technology initiative, and FRA will continue allocating and leveraging all necessary resources to support the swift implementation of PTC,” FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory said.

The PTC implementation mandate includes a requirement of interoperability. The controlling railroad locomotives and cab cars must be able to communicate with the PTC system, including across railroad property boundaries.

As of March 31, 2019, all 41 railroads required to implement PTC have complied with the law. Four railroads have fully installed PTC and 37 other railroads have surpassed the statutory criteria needed to qualify for an alternative schedule.  All railroads subject to the mandate have committed to comprehensive PTC implementation by December 31, 2020.

The FRA’s effort to guarantee PTC implementation across all American railroads is an admirable attempt to enforce the DOT’s commitment to railroad safety, but it is unfortunate that it requires a Congressional mandate to force the railroad industry to make the same commitment. If you have been injured in a railroad accident, it is critical that you hire an experienced attorney. Please call DBJ today at 1-800-875-5972 for a free consultation.