House transportation Democrats want to prevent future PTC extensions

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WASHINGTON — Minority members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee filed a bill on Jan. 11 that would prohibit the Federal Railroad Administration from extending deadlines for Positive Train Control implementation past Dec. 31.

“Since Congress first passed legislation to mandate PTC implementation in 2008, some railroads have been diligent in implementing PTC while others have clearly been dragging their feet,” said U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., in a prepared statement.

DeFazio is the ranking Democrat on the committee. U.S. Rep. Michael E. Capuano, D-Mass., ranking member on the subcommittee that oversees railroads, is a co-sponsor. There are seven other co-sponsors.

Congress gave the railroads a two-year extension of the PTC deadline in 2016, but “as we approach that deadline, many of the railroads do not appear to be on track to meet the PTC mandate,” DeFazio said. “Enough. No more delays, no more extensions, no more excuses from railroads who have had ten years to implement PTC technology.”

The bill also calls for $2.5 billion in grants to help intercity and commuter railroads meet the deadline. It would also prohibit railroads from operating passenger trains on new lines until PTC is fully implemented. The statement notes that PTC had not been completed on a new route for the Amtrak Cascades service in Washington state, where the inaugural revenue train derailed on Dec. 18, 2017.

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