Tuesday, November 29, 2016

FRA Q3 PTC update: Everyone must do their part

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FRA Q3 PTC update: Everyone must do their part FRA

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) called progress made by railroads in the third quarter of 2016 in implementing Positive Train Control (PTC) "uneven" across the country and across the railroads.

The report says freight railroads now have PTC active on 12 percent of their tracks, up from 9 percent last quarter. Passenger railroads increased their percentage to 23 percent this quarter compared to 22 percent last quarter. FRA noted the measurable progress made by passenger railroads has been predominately on the West Coast and called progress on East Coast passenger railroads, with the exception of SEPTA and Amtrak, as "relatively stagnant."

In response to the report, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) issued a statement reminding the industry of the "complexities involved in developing, installing and then thoroughly testing this complex, revolutionary technology to ensure it is providing additional safety benefits."

AAR reiterated that implementing PTC is a priority among freight railroads and noted the freight industry spends $100 million per month on PTC's development, testing and installation.

"The reality is that this revolutionary technology is not-off-the shelf, it had to be developed from scratch and isn't just about plugging in or turning on components. It is a complex step-by-step process, both in terms of safety, engineering and implementation," said AAR.

Union Pacific, which has invested $2.1 billion through September 2016 on PTC and is on track to meet the 2018 deadline, says it has 40 PTC trains per day operating in the Los Angeles Basin and central California.

The Class 1 said, "Developing and implementing a PTC system is a multi-dimensional process requiring a cross-functional, networkwide approach. Union Pacific's PTC system consists of multiple technologies functioning together to constantly monitor and manage train movements."

In mid November, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) said that based on its analysis, significant progress had been made on the passenger rail side of the industry to implement PTC. APTA called implementing the technology a "heavy lift" for commuter railroads and asked for additional federal funds to help pay for the implementation. A thought echoed by FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg.

"In order to achieve full PTC implementation, everyone has to do their part – railroads must make implementation a priority and Congress must make funding for commuter railroads a priority," said Administrator Feinberg.

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