Leaders of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee have written to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn regarding installation of positive train control (PTC) by the end of 2015.
The committees say mplementation of the complex technology, on the scale required by Rail Safety Improvement Act, has never been attempted anywhere in the world and will require the deployment of as many as 22,000 rail-side antennas. The committee leaders are concerned that federal environmental and historic review processes for the installation of the antennas add another impediment to meeting the 2015 PTC installation mandate.
“Apparently recognizing that the FCC’s processes cannot accommodate the railroads’ statutorily mandated PTC implementation schedule, the FCC staff has advised the railroads not to proceed with any applications for environmental and historic review until an approach for expediting the notification and review processes can be determined.
“Accordingly, PTC antenna installation activities by the railroads have been essentially put on hold until the FCC staff advises the railroads that they can start again,” wrote Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Chairman Jeff Denham (R-CA) and Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR).
The leaders also stated that the delay caused by this freeze and the FCC’s environmental and historic review processes adversely affects the railroads’ ability to deploy PTC and delays implementation of safety systems mandated by Congress.
They wrote, “We urge the FCC to move expeditiously to put a process in place to facilitate the timely deployment of PTC.”
The leaders requested periodic updates from the Acting Chairwoman Clyburn or her staff regarding the commission’s involvement with PTC implementation.