New bonds to help ARRC fund PTC implementation

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, editor
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Office of Gov. Bill Walker

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker signed a bill into law on Wednesday that will allow the Alaska Railroad Corporation (ARRC) to issue bonds in order to fund implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC).


State Rep. Steve Thompson of Fairbanks sponsored HB 140, which authorizes ARRC to issue $37 million in tax-exempt bonds to finance a large portion of a new PTC system, which is part of the federal Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008. ARRC estimates the cost of implementing PTC on its property will be approximately $158 million.

ARRC estimates PTC implementation will cost approximately $158 million. Since 1997, ARRC has invested $68.9 million to develop a PTC system. In 2013 and 2014, ARRC received an additional $19.1 million and $15 million respectively from the state of Alaska to continue work on PTC. Between 2016 and 2018, an additional $55 million will be required for ARRC to complete the development and installation of PTC by 2018. This figure does not include the estimated $5 million to $7 million per year of operating and capital maintenance costs related to the system that ARRC would fund after PTC is installed.

“When Congress passed this mandate in 2008, funds were not appropriated to help railroads comply with the new standards,” Gov. Walker said. “I’m pleased that the Alaska Railroad Corporation came forward with a recommendation to help solve this problem.”