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FRA issues final rule for PTC

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Railroad Administration Administrator Joseph Szabo announced historic safety regulations requiring that Positive Train Control technology be installed on the nation's major rail lines, as well as commuter and intercity passenger rail routes. PTC is an integrated set of technologies that will help avert train-to-train collisions, derailments caused by excessive speed, accidents caused by human error or misaligned switches and harm to roadway workers.

"Safety is our highest
priority, and we believe the installation of this equipment will make our
nation’s railroads safer," said Secretary LaHood.


PTC sends and receives a
continuous stream of data transmitted by wireless signals about the location,
speed, and direction of trains. PTC systems utilize advanced technologies
including digital radio links, global positioning systems and wayside computer
control systems that aid dispatchers and train crews in safely managing train

"We believe this final
rule, as mandated by Congress, is a giant step forward toward ensuring the
safety and reliability of our freight, commuter and intercity passenger rail
routes," said FRA Administrator Szabo.

The final rule will also
allow railroads to immediately begin finalizing their PTC Implementation Plans,
which are required by statute to be submitted to FRA by April 16, 2010.

The final rule issued Jan.
12 is the result of more than a decade of work by FRA and its stakeholders,
carried out in partnership through the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee. The
Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 mandates that interoperable PTC systems
must be fully instituted by the end of 2015. Train control systems such as PTC
are now mandatory for most passenger rail operations and for trains hauling
certain hazardous materials, but they are not required for closed passenger
rail systems such as light rail, rapid transit and subways.

Unrelated to any deadlines
contained in this final rule, FRA is seeking additional comments on a few
specific provisions of this final rule as to whether clarity can be improved
and whether further opportunities for cost savings, consistent with safety, are

The final rulemaking on PTC
was published Jan. 12 in the Federal Register, can be found on the FRA’s

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