August 8, 2020
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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Build America Bureau is providing a $851.15 million loan under its Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing or RRIF program to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to help comply with the positive train control or PTC mandates designed to improve railroad safety.

[Above photo by the MBTA.]

PTC is a communications-based system designed to automatically slow or stop a train that isn’t being operated safely. Some 42 railroads – including Amtrak, 30 commuter railroads, and several freight railroads – were required to implement PTC by December 31, 2018, and almost all of them received two-year extensions to finish that process.

Photo by the MBTA

MBTA’s project includes completing the installation of PTC across its entire system, along with the complementary automatic train control or ATC system on its 170-mile north side commuter rail lines.

The project also includes the expansion of buried fiber optic cable network to cover the entire MBTA commuter rail signaling system to enhance commuter rail system resiliency, USDOT noted in a statement.

15-page report issued by the U.S. Government Accountability Office in late April indicates that despite facing “tight schedules” that may make software installation “more acute,” the railroad industry remains “generally optimistic” about finishing required positive train control implementation work by the end of 2020.

editor@aashto.org

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