Metra has completed the installation of all hardware required for Positive Train Control (PTC) implementation. To celebrate the achievement, the commuter rail service provider held a press conference and event for its mechanical and engineering teams.
“Implementing Positive Train Control has been a long, difficult and expensive undertaking and we are happy that we are now seeing it so close to completion,” said Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski. “I want to congratulate the Metra workers whose dedication and expertise got us here today and I want our riders to know that our already safe system is about to get a whole lot safer.”
Installing all PTC components on its trains and on all its communications and signal systems along its train lines is one of four achievements that are required for Metra to qualify for an alternative schedule to have PTC fully implemented by Dec. 31, 2020.
Metra says that of the three remaining achievements needed to qualify for an alternative schedule, it has already acquired the needed spectrum, will complete the required training in October and will begin a revenue service demonstration project on its Rock Island Line.
PTC is expected to cost Metra approximately $400 million to install and between $15 million to $20 million in annual operating costs. About a tenth of the of the costs have been covered by $43 million in federal PTC grants, but Metra says fully funding the technology will come out of its “already inadequate capital resources.”
Another challenge Metra is preparing for is interoperability. Metra’s PTC system must be interoperable with 13 other railroads before full implementation can be achieved.
Metra was joined at the event by Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Administrator Ronald Batory and Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority General Manager Jeffrey Knueppel, who also serves as chairman of the Subcommittee on Commuter Rail PTC of the American Public Transportation Association. Both Administrator Batory and Knueppel, who testified last week at a congressional hearing focused on PTC, noted the unparalleled technological and financial challenges in scale, complexity and time required for PTC implementation.
Commuter railroads have made significant progress this year in their efforts to implement PTC, but nine remain classified as “at risk” by FRA for missing the statutory deadline of Dec. 31, 2018. FRA says it is working closely with those nine properties to ensure they meet their requirements.