Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) leadership is stepping up its role in the journey toward positive train control (PTC) implementation by meeting with railroad and supply representatives to ensure progress is being made.
FRA hosted face-to-face meetings earlier this year with each of the 41 railroads subject to the PTC mandate. FRA explains that the purpose of the meetings was to evaluate each railroad's PTC status and learn what remaining steps each needs to take to have a PTC system fully implemented by the December 2018 deadline or, at a minimum, to meet the statutory criteria necessary to qualify for an alternative schedule.
All railroads subject to the statutory PTC implementation mandate must implement FRA-certified and interoperable PTC systems by the end of the year. Under the Positive Train Control Enforcement and Implementation Act of 2015, however, Congress permits a railroad to request FRA's approval of an "alternate schedule" with a deadline beyond Dec. 31, 2018, but no later than Dec. 31, 2020, for certain non-hardware, operational aspects of PTC system implementation.
As a result of the meetings with railroads, FRA is now meeting with PTC suppliers to learn more about their capacity to meet the high demands for railroads' implementation of PTC systems in a timely manner.
"It is the railroads' responsibility to meet the congressionally mandated PTC requirements," said FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory. "The FRA is committed to doing its part to ensure railroads and suppliers are working together to implement PTC systems."
FRA also released the railroads' self-reported progress through the fourth quarter of 2017. The fourth quarter data, current as of Dec. 31, 2017, shows PTC systems are in operation on approximately 56 percent of freight railroads' route miles that are required to be governed by PTC systems—up from 45 percent last quarter and 16 percent on Dec. 31, 2016. FRA notes that passenger railroads have made less progress—with PTC systems in operation on 24 percent of required route miles, which is unchanged from the previous quarter.
FRA states that the latest data confirms that railroads continue to make progress in installing PTC system hardware, with 15 railroads reporting they have completed installation of all hardware necessary for PTC system implementation and another 11 railroads reporting they have installed more than 80 percent of PTC system hardware. In addition, all but three railroads report having acquired sufficient spectrum for their PTC system needs.