October 20, 2020
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The Federal Railroad Administration issued a status update on the implementation of positive train control or PTC technology for the second quarter this year on September 9, with PTC systems in operation on roughly 87 percent of the nearly 58,000 route miles required by Congress – a 4 percent increase over the first quarter.

[Photo by the Massachusetts Office of Travel.]

Nonetheless, FRA said in a statement that railroads “must still complete significant work” to fully implement their PTC systems by the December 31, 2020, deadline – especially with respect to activating PTC systems on the remaining required main lines and achieving the necessary interoperability with their tenant railroads.

Specifically, PTC systems are only in use on about 37 percent of host commuter railroad track mileage required to use the technology. By contrast, Class I freight railroads report that PTC systems are in operation on approximately 91 percent of their required main lines as of June, with Amtrak reporting 99.8 percent of its required route miles are governed by a PTC system.

FRA added that PTC technology is in operation on 84 percent of the track miles where Amtrak operates as a tenant railroad on other railroads’ PTC-equipped main lines.

Ronald Batory

Yet FRA Administrator Ronald Batory emphasized in a statement that all railroads have committed to fully implementing PTC systems on the required main lines by December 31, 2020, if not earlier.

“FRA is determined to help all affected railroads successfully satisfy the statutory deadline for full PTC system installation, testing, certification and ultimately initiate operations governed by PTC on all required territories,” he said.

“FRA is currently directing its focus and resources on the technical challenges facing the railroads, including commencing revenue service demonstration, interoperability testing and safety plans,” Batory noted.

editor@aashto.org

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