FRA publishes Q3 PTC implementation progress by U.S. railroads
As of 30 September 2020, approximately 57,314 of the 57,537 route miles subject to the mandate had PTC systems in RSD or in operation.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has released a quarterly status update on U.S. railroads’ self-reported progress, as of 30 September 2020, toward fully implementing positive train control (PTC) systems by 31 December 2020, as required by the U.S. Congress.
All railroads subject to the statutory mandate are currently operating PTC systems in revenue service or in advanced field testing, known as revenue service demonstration (RSD). As of 30 September 2020, the technology remains to be activated on approximately 223 required route miles, based on railroads’ Third Quarter 2020 PTC Progress Reports, which were due 31 October 2020.
Federal Railroad Administration Administrator, Ronald L. Batory, said: “Full implementation of PTC is in sight, owing to everyone’s unparalleled cooperation and determination. I’m incredibly proud of the intensive collaborations we have forged. Once complete, railroads, rail workers and rail passengers will all benefit from this transformational accomplishment in railroad safety.”
As of 30 September 2020, PTC systems were in RSD or in operation on approximately 57,314 route miles — 99.6 per cent of the 57,537 route miles subject to the mandate. This represents a 0.8 percentage point increase since the second quarter of 2020 and indicates that the technology was activated on an additional 468 miles during the third 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. Based on railroads’ third quarter reports, 92.3 per cent of commuter railroads’ mandated route miles are governed by PTC technology — a 16.2 percentage point increase since the last quarter. In addition, Amtrak reports that, as of 30 September 2020, a PTC system is now in operation on all PTC-mandated main lines owned or control by Amtrak — a 0.03 percentage point increase since FRA’s last status update.
In addition, railroads have made additional gains toward completing interoperability testing and meeting the interoperability requirements under the statute and FRA’s regulations. As of the third quarter, host railroads reported that interoperability has been achieved by 84 per cent of the 219 applicable, host-tenant railroad relationships — an 18.6 percentage point increase since the second quarter of 2020.
Based on the criteria that FRA utilises to evaluate the risk of noncompliance, FRA currently considers one railroad, New Jersey Transit (NJT), at risk of not fully implementing PTC technology on all of its required main lines by 31 December 2020. Specifically, NJT reports that, as of 30 September 2020, it is operating a PTC system in RSD on approximately 48 per cent of its 375.9 PTC-mandated route miles.
FRA continues to direct additional resources and technical assistance to NJT, including on-site support to oversee and expedite testing and RSD. FRA’s leadership and PTC specialists meet with NJT multiple times each month to provide advice regarding its schedule and the remaining actions that NJT must take to fully implement an FRA-certified and interoperable PTC system on NJT’s required main lines by the statutory deadline. Furthermore, FRA regularly sends correspondence to NJT, the New Jersey Department of Transportation, and NJT’s major PTC system vendors and suppliers to underscore the importance of timely PTC system implementation.
As the statutorily-mandated 31 December 2020 deadline for full PTC implementation approaches, FRA is highlighting its PTC-related Outreach and Communication with the Industry, detailing the agency’s exhaustive stakeholder engagement since 2017.
In addition to providing sustained direct technical assistance and on-site support to railroads, FRA has held nine PTC Symposia and Collaboration Sessions and dozens of routine meetings with host and tenant railroads, suppliers, vendors and industry associations. In addition, over the four-year period, FRA has continuously improved upon the speed with which the agency reviews railroads’ PTC filings. Finally, the U.S. Department of Transportation has supported the full and timely implementation of PTC technology by providing approximately $3.4 billion in grant and loan funding to support railroads and other entities that sought federal financial assistance for that purpose.