The rail industry is coming down the final stretch, even if that stretch is 8,000 route miles long.
At a hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Federal Railroad Administration Chief Ronald Batory said positive train control (PTC) has been installed on 90 percent of the required track. That totals about 50,000 route miles. The requirement set by Congress in 2008 is 58,000, and the deadline when PTC must be fully implemented is Dec. 31, 2020.
Batory says the railroads will continue to be held accountable for the timely implementation of PTC and there will be no extensions this time. A series of delays pushed the original deadline back to 12 years since Congress made PTC installation law.
A total of 42 railroads must have PTC fully operating in a little over a year, and 30 are commuter railroads. When all is said and done officials say the industry will spend almost $15 billion on PTC, and up to $130 million a year will be spent on maintenance and operation.
Railroad companies who do not hit the 2020 deadline could be hit with fines of up to $28,474 a day, but Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said after the meeting on July 31 that, “I don’t know if we are going to vaporize people who do not comply.”
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