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Thursday, March 18, 2010

AAR says Chlorine Institute off base in benefits of PTC

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The Chlorine Institute has called on the Federal Railroad Administration to reexamine its rule on the cost and benefits of implementing positive train control systems. The Chlorine Institute claims that the FRA analysis of the benefits of PTC was flawed and that positive train control systems result in business benefits to the railroads. Nothing could be further from the truth.

"The truth is that in weighing all the factors involved in PTC implementation, FRA's examination of the costs versus the benefits of PTC clearly shows that there are no present business benefits to the railroads. In fact, the cost-benefit carries an inverse relationship of 20 to one. The FRA estimates the costs of installing PTC to be $10 to $13 billion over 20 years with about a $500 million safety benefit," said Association of American Railroads president and CEO Edward R. Hamberger.

More than 80 percent of PTC's alleged business benefits depend on increasing train speed. PTC will not increase capacity and train speed; instead, it will likely reduce both. Current PTC technology cannot equal the handling and braking precision of a skilled engineer. In a testing, the stopping distance under PTC far exceeds the distance under normal operations with a skilled engineer. Increased stopping distances will mean reduced average speed and reduced capacity.

"The Chlorine Institute is attacking the FRA's cost-benefit analysis of PTC as a smoke screen to hide the fact that their shipments will raise the cost of rail transportation for all customers. The high cost of the PTC mandate is a direct result of the toxic nature of chlorine shipments," noted Hamberger. "Instead of bashing the FRA cost benefit analysis, the Chlorine Institute should join AAR in improving the safety and efficiency of rail transportation, as well as reducing the exposure of the American public to toxic-by-inhalation (TIH) hazardous materials, through product substitution and other means of reducing the transportation of TIH."

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