Union Pacific completes PTC implementation on its system

Written by David C. Lester, Managing Editor
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Union Pacific recently completed Positive Train Control (PTC) implementation, activating its final track segment. The technology is now implemented on all the company’s federally mandated rail lines, including required passenger train routes. Union Pacific will continue working with partner railroads on their interoperability efforts, ensuring seamless operation onto the company’s tracks.

PTC is designed to prevent four specific types of incidents:

  • Train-to-train collisions
  • Derailments caused by excessive speed
  • Accidents that can occur if trains are routed down the incorrect track
  • Unauthorized train movements on tracks undergoing maintenance

PTC will not prevent incidents involving pedestrians or vehicles.

“PTC is one of the biggest rail industry breakthroughs, designed to keep our crews and communities safer through technology,” said Greg Richardson, Union Pacific general director Operating Systems and Practices. “While Union Pacific began its first PTC operations nearly four years ago, we have now completed our initial implementation and continue supporting other railroads in our mutual efforts to achieve interoperability and safely operate on our rail lines.”

PTC monitors trains based on a custom analysis of specific factors, including weight, location, speed and a five-mile look down the track. Locomotive engineers respond to computer screen messages, prompting them to take action, such as slowing down. If they do not respond in a timely manner, PTC automatically stops the train.

Union Pacific currently hosts 25 freight and passenger railroads, which must achieve PTC interoperability by December 2020. Sixteen of these railroads are compliant, encompassing 85% of Union Pacific’s interoperable PTC train miles. While the company’s PTC infrastructure is in operation, Union Pacific continues working with its remaining partner railroads, which are expected to take necessary steps to reach interoperability by mid-2020.

A Union Pacific news release.

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