FRA PTC grants: 28 projects in 15 states receive funding

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, editor
PTC grants for RailRunner
Rio Metro Regional Transit District was one of the recipients of the latest PTC grants from the FRA.
Rio Metro Regional Transit District

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has awarded more than $200 million in available funds to assist with the deployment of Positive Train Control (PTC) with a second solicitation expected soon regarding the remaining $46 million in available resources.

A total of 28 projects in 15 states will benefit from the $203.7 million awarded through the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program. While the initial Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) issued in May said $250 million was available, FRA is expected to issue another NOFO to solicit applications for the remaining funds. There will be a quick turnaround for the second solicitation with applications due 30 days from when the NOFO is published in the Federal Register.

“It was our goal to award today’s grants as quickly as possible to help the recipients implement PTC,” said FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory. “We also encourage eligible applicants to apply for the remaining balance of the PTC CRISI grants after that NOFO is published.”

FRA released data showing second quarter progress in implementing the safety technology on Aug. 23. The data showed significant improvement compared to where the rail industry stood in December 2016. The statutory deadline to implement PTC is Dec. 31, 2018. Railroads that meet six criteria can apply for an alternative schedule to complete installation of PTC no later than Dec. 31, 2020.

Congressional offices had previously released some of the PTC funding awards this week. FRA says the awards fund many aspects of PTC system implementation including back office PTC systems; wayside, communications, and onboard PTC system equipment; personnel training; PTC system testing; and interoperability. A full list of awards appears below.

Award amounts vary greatly with the smallest dollar amount to a single entity awarded to Nebraska Central Railroad Company at a bit more than $527,000 and the largest dollar amount, more than $29 million, awarded to Rio Metro Regional Transit District.

In making the selection decisions for the PTC grants, the factors that FRA considered included supporting economic vitality; leveraging federal funding; using innovative approaches to improve safety and expedite project delivery; and holding grant recipients accountable for achieving specific, measurable outcomes. FRA says that preference was given to projects proposing at least a 50 percent match and that maximize the net benefits of the grant funds.

Grants awarded are as follows, by state, then entity; an asterisk by the entity’s name indicates those properties FRA has classified as “at-risk” based on second quarter 2018 PTC progress reports:


Alaska Railroad Corporation (ARRC); up to $10.38 million

Will involve the development, testing, system certification and implementation of Interoperable Electronic Train Management System (I-ETMS) with an Independent Vital Server to improve safety and the railroad’s overall operations along ARRC’s main line that stretches 470 miles from Seward to Fairbanks, Alaska.


California Department of Transportation (Caltrans); up to $11.34 million

Will design and install the I-ETMS wayside signal systems at 30 existing control points and 111 intermediate signal locations along the Coast Subdivision from Oakland to North San Luis Obispo, Calif., in this rural project.

*Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (Caltrain); up to $18.69 million

Will build upon Caltrain’s efforts to test and validate certain technical PTC components of its I-ETMS system between San Francisco and southern San Jose.

Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART); up to $5 million

Will install Enhanced Automatic Train Control (E-ATC) on the 3.3-mile passenger rail extension between the Sonoma County Airport job center and Windsor.

Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA/Metrolink), up to $9.94 million

Will upgrade Metrolink’s PTC Train Management Computer (TMC) to improve processor power as well as upgrade the wayside system hardware to support the deployment of nearside crossing inhibits and wireless activations in southern California.


Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT); up to $14.91 million

Will complete the installation of I-ETMS, with testing and documentation to support PTC System Certification, on the 61.3-mile Central Florida Rail Corridor from DeLand to Poinciana, Fla. *SunRail operates along this route


Iowa Interstate Railroad (IAIS); up to $1.77 million

Will install onboard PTC systems and radios on 23 IAIS locomotives and procure a back-office service messaging systems license to allow for interoperable PTC operations on Metra’s Rock Island District commuter line in Illinois.

Iowa Northern Railway Company (IANR); up to $1.98 million

Will install I-ETMS onboard 20 locomotives, along with software, a back-office system, component testing, interoperability testing, and training for IANR’s freight rail transportation between Cedar Falls and Waterloo, Iowa, on the Canadian National Railway’s Waterloo Subdivision.


Belt Railway Company of Chicago (BRC); up to $8.6 million

Will complete the final phase of BRC’s I-ETMS PTC systems engineering, integration, testing, and training on its entire main line network in Cook County, Ill.

Chicago Rail Link (CRL); up to $1.64 million

Will include onboard computer equipment and communication systems, locomotive radio licenses, messaging licenses, and a back-office service messaging systems management license, along with PTC system testing and training to support the five CRL and Illinois Railway locomotives operating on the Metra commuter rail system in and around Chicago, as Metra and BNSF Railway activate I-ETMS PTC systems.

Commuter Rail Division of the Regional Transportation Authority (Metra); up to $22.98 million

Will construct the fiber optic backbone to provide redundancy and resiliency for I‐ETMS PTC operations on two Metra-operated commuter rail routes, the Rock Island and South West Service lines.


Chicago South Shore & South Bend Railroad (CSS) up to $720,000

Will include I-ETMS installation, testing, and training as well as interoperability between CSS and the host railroad, Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, along a route from Chicago, Ill., to South Bend, Ind.

Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD); up to $8.08 million

Will complete the design, implementation, training, and support of NICTD’s I-ETMS PTC system for the wayside, onboard, locomotive, back office, and communications segments to enhance the safety of commuter rail passenger transportation between South Bend, Ind., and Chicago, Ill.


Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA); up to $20 million

Will support the completion of MBTA’s ongoing implementation of the Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System II (ACSES II) with system acceptance testing of 12 non-pilot lines in the Greater Boston metropolitan area, where installing equipment is ongoing.

Springfield Terminal Railway Company (ST)/Pan Am Railways; up to $2.99 million

Will install ACSES II and Automatic Train Control on ST’s locomotives on rail lines throughout the New England area and support related testing and training.


Maryland Transit Administration (MTA); up to $2.08 million

Will upgrade, test, and commission nine *Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) locomotives with I-ETMS and provide training for service on CSX Transportation, Inc.’s (CSX) and Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor territories along MARC’s three lines from Washington, D.C., to Martinsburg, W.V.; Brunswick, Md.; and Frederick, Md.


Nebraska Central Railroad Company (NCRC); up to $527,596

Will deploy the PTC back office system, onboard hardware equipment for three locomotives, software, component testing, and training for the NCRC to operate along 62 miles of Union Pacific Railroad’s track between Grand Island and Columbus, Neb., in this rural project.

New Mexico

*Rio Metro Regional Transit District (Rio Metro); up to $29.36 million

Will result in the full implementation of New Mexico Rail Runner Express’ (NMRX) I-ETMS PTC system, which will be installed on 96 miles of the NMRX system between Belen, and Santa Fe, N.M., including approximately 74 miles of the Albuquerque Subdivision and 22 miles of the Santa Fe Subdivision in this rural project.

New York

Middletown and New Jersey Railroad; up to $1.2 million

Will deploy ACSES II PTC back office systems, communications, onboard hardware equipment, and software as well as support testing and training to ensure that Middletown and New Jersey Railroad locomotives can operate on New Jersey Transit dispatched territory in Orange County, N.Y., in this rural project.

New York & Atlantic Railway Company (NYA); up to $1.01 million

Will install PTC onboard equipment on 10 NYA locomotives as well as support training and testing for its operations on freight lines owned by the Long Island Rail Road in Long Island, N.Y.


Allegheny Valley Railroad Company (AVR); up to $1.83 million and up to $302,444

Will upgrade AVR’s 10 locomotives with PTC and Cab Signal Systems for operations utilizing AVR’s trackage rights over Norfolk Southern Railway’s (NS) rail lines and upgrade four other locomotives solely with PTC, and support testing and training.

AVR’s second grant will install a PTC back office and support system engineering, testing, and training for AVR operating on 77 miles of track in the greater Pittsburgh area.

North Shore Railroad Company; up to $4.42 million

Will deploy I-ETMS back office systems, communications and onboard hardware equipment, software, equipment installation, testing and training for the implementation of PTC systems, and interoperability testing for six short line railroads operating in central Pennsylvania on tracks owned by NS in this rural project.


*Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro); up to $5.65 million

Will include the remaining integration testing of PTC components, preparation of the PTC safety plan, contract engineering and oversight, systems testing, and training for Capital Metro’s installation of E-ATC on its Red Line in the cities of Austin, Cedar Park, Leander, and surrounding Texas communities.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART); up to $9.52 million

Will support implementing a PTC back office system, I-ETMS systems integration and testing with multiple freight and passenger railroads, interoperability testing, and training for the Trinity Railway Express and TEXRail commuter railroads in the Dallas-Fort Worth urban area.

Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA); up to $4 million

Will implement five cut sections to include PTC programming changes, insulated joints, track monitoring equipment, testing and communications, deploying dispatch software/hardware integration with the Enhanced Automatic Train Control (E-ATC) temporary speed restrictions server, support training, and testing along a 21-mile commuter rail line in Denton County, Texas.


Utah Transit Authority (UTA); up to $2.78 million

Will include the software redesign to advance E-ATC on the FrontRunner South Segment from Salt Lake City to Provo, over 44.26 miles.


Puget Sound and Pacific Railroad (PSAP); up to $1.99 million

Will install onboard PTC systems on 18 locomotives across five Class III railroads, test crew initialization back office server system across eight railroads, and establish a PTC Help Desk/Lab to support eight railroads in Arkansas, California, Ohio, Oregon, Minnesota, Missouri, and Washington.

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