FRA releases latest PTC data for second quarter of 2018

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A partial screen image capture from the Federal Railroad Administration's quarterly update on railroads' progress implementing positive train control.
Federal Railroad Administration website
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration today released the 2018 Quarter 2 status update on railroads’ self-reported progress toward implementing positive train control systems.

The latest data, current as of June 30, shows that 15 railroads have installed 100 percent of the PTC system hardware that must be installed for implementation, based on a review of the railroads’ PTC Implementation Plans and quarterly progress reports for Quarter 2 of 2018. Twelve other railroads have installed between 95 and 99 percent of the PTC system hardware identified in their PTC implementation plans. All railroads, except for one, that use spectrum-based PTC systems have acquired sufficient spectrum.

This marks a significant improvement from December 2016, where freight railroads had PTC active on just 16 percent of required tracks, while passenger railroads were at 24 percent.

In addition, 14 railroads have initiated sufficient revenue service demonstration or met substitute criteria, which is also one of the six statutory criteria needed to qualify for an alternative schedule. PTC systems are in demonstration or operation on approximately 37,705 route miles, or 65 percent, of the nearly 58,000 route miles that are subject to the statutory mandate.

“The railroads have achieved some significant improvements over the past year implementing this safety technology,” FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory says. “While we are seeing progress among a majority of railroads, we want to see everyone meet their requirements.”

Quarter 2 data shows a 25-percent drop in the number of “at-risk” railroads from 12 to 9. FRA currently considers any railroad that installed less than 90 percent of its PTC system hardware as of June 30, to be at risk, as installation of all PTC system hardware is only an initial phase of implementing a PTC system and only one of the six statutory criteria required to qualify for an alternative schedule.

The nine at-risk railroads are: New Mexico Rail Runner Express, Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, NJ Transit, Altamont Corridor Express, Maryland Area Regional Commuter, Trinity Railway Express, South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, Caltrain, and SunRail. The nine at-risk railroads own or control approximately 665 route miles that are subject to the statutory mandate, which is approximately 11 percent of the route miles that must be governed by a PTC system and 0.475-percent of the U.S. rail network.

Class I railroads and any entity that provides intercity or commuter rail passenger transportation must fully implement a PTC system on all required route miles by Dec. 31, unless a railroad qualifies for an alternative schedule under the Positive Train Control Enforcement and Implementation Act of 2015. The act provides that a railroad’s alternative schedule, if any, must contain a deadline that is as soon as practicable, but no later than Dec. 31, 2020.

To request FRA’s approval of a railroad’s alternative schedule to complete testing, certification, interoperability, and full implementation beyond Dec. 31, 2018, a railroad must submit a written notification to FRA when it has met the statutory criteria necessary to qualify for an alternative schedule and is ready for FRA’s review and approval. The act requires FRA to approve a railroad’s alternative schedule if a railroad demonstrates in a written notification that it has met all statutory criteria for an alternative schedule, including that it has: (1) installed, by Dec. 31, 2018, all PTC system hardware consistent with the governing PTC Implementation Plan; (2) acquired, by Dec. 31, 2018, all spectrum necessary to implement its PTC system consistent with the governing PTC Implementation Plan; and, (3) made sufficient progress on employee training, revenue service demonstration, and other criteria as specified under the act.

More information is available online.

— A Federal Railroad Administration news release. Aug. 23, 2018.
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