FRA releases U.S. railroads’ Q2 PTC implementation progress

Posted: 13 August 2020 | | No comments yet

A quarterly update on the implementation of PTC on U.S. railroads has outlined that 98.8 per cent of the 57,537 route miles are now in RSD or operation.

FRA releases U.S. railroads' Q2 PTC implementation progress

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has released a quarterly status update on railroads’ self-reported progress, as of 30 June 2020, toward fully implementing positive train control (PTC) systems by 31 December 2020, as required by the U.S. Congress.

Based on railroads’ Second Quarter 2020 PTC Progress Reports and current PTC Implementation Plans, nearly all railroads that are subject to the statutory mandate are operating their systems in revenue service or in advanced field testing, known as revenue service demonstration (RSD). As of 30 June 2020, PTC technology remains to be activated on approximately 700 required route miles.

Federal Railroad Administration Administrator, Ronald L. Batory, said: “I am highly pleased by the amount of progress railroads have made moving toward fully implementing PTC systems. While more work lies ahead, the significant advancements made thus far are encouraging. I applaud all railroads involved in this unprecedented effort for their intensive collaboration to get all concerned to the finish line.”

As of 30 June 2020, PTC systems were in RSD or in operation on approximately 56,846 route miles — 98.8 per cent of the 57,537 route miles that are subject to the mandate. This represents a 0.7 percentage point increase since the first quarter of 2020 and indicates that PTC technology was activated on an additional 305 miles during the second quarter.

As previously reported, PTC systems are currently governing operations on all PTC-mandated main lines owned or controlled by Class I railroads and other freight host railroads. As of 30 June 2020, 76.1 per cent of commuter railroads’ mandated route miles were governed by PTC technology— a 12.9 percentage point increase since the first quarter of 2020.

In addition, the railroad industry continues to make notable strides toward completing interoperability testing and meeting the interoperability requirements under the statute and FRA’s regulations. As of 30 June 2020, host railroads reported that interoperability has been achieved by 65.5 per cent of the 220 applicable, host-tenant railroad relationships— a 17 percentage point increase since the first quarter of 2020. 

Based on the criteria FRA utilises to evaluate the risk of noncompliance, FRA currently considers two host railroads at risk of not fully implementing PTC on all required main lines by 31 December 2020: New Jersey Transit (NJT) and New Mexico Rail Runner Express (NMRX/Rio Metro).

Two railroads were removed from the at-risk list based on their substantial progress in Quarter 2 of 2020: the Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad (Metra) and TEXRail. Both railroads entered RSD on 100 per cent of their required main lines, submitted their PTC Safety Plans and are now focusing on completing interoperability by the December deadline.

“This is the kind of synergy, partnership and cooperation we want to encourage,” said Batory, adding that FRA continues to direct additional staff resources to support railroads at risk of not fully implementing an FRA-certified and interoperable PTC system by the end-of-year deadline.

USDOT has provided approximately $3.4 billion in grants and loans to support the industry’s mandated implementation of PTC technology. FRA continues to help railroads fully implement PTC systems by providing direct technical assistance, on-site technical support, and hosting industry-wide collaboration sessions.

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