FRA to fine railroads missing PTC deadline

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WASHINGTON - Government regulators will fine railroads that are out of compliance with positive train control laws after Dec. 31, a new report says.

Federal Railroad Administration officials say on page 14 of a 19-page report to Congress that they will fine railroads per violation, per day, if the railroads fail to have positive train control systems operating after the current deadline of Dec. 31.

The report was sent to Capitol Hill today and released to the media around noon Central time.

Report writers also include a list of the possible violations and fines railroads could face.

Type of PTC violation  Fine for violation Fine for 'willful' violation
Failure of PTC system to perform a safety-critical function $5,000  $7,500 
Operation of PTC system prior to certification   $16,000 $25,000
Failure to request modification of (plan documents) when required $11,000 $16,000
Failure to maintain required supporting documentation $2,500 $5,000
Failure to update (safety plan) when required $5,000 $7,500

"In the instance of the expected widespread PTC noncompliance on Jan. 1, 2016, and the railroads' admission that it may take up to five years for them to come into full compliance, the potential civil penalties that FRA could assess are substantial," the report says.

The agency says it has discretion to mete penalties to increase compliance with the PTC law and safety generally, and specifically outlines seven points on issuing fines, based on level of compliance, history with complying with the agency, actual harm or potential harm to humans, and the seriousness of a violation.

Congress required railroads to install positive train control on all mainlines over which toxic or hazardous-by-inhalation chemicals travel, or any line that regular passenger traffic. The rules and others were part of the Railroad Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

The agency also released detailed notes on 38 U.S. railroads and how well they've done to implement positive train control so far. Complete lists include in the report are below. The full report is available here. For more information on positive train control in the United States, visit Trains' PTC page. 
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*—Railroad to provide information as part of American Shortline and Regional Railroad Association report in August.
†—Current system design uses other methods to achieve train location information
‡—Some railroads use revenue service demo to indicate full PTC implementation while others consider it when they have finished the portions of the PTC system they are responsible to complete.
Federal Railroad Administration
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