Fed­eral Rail Study Cites ACE At-Risk

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The U.S. Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion’s (DOT) Fed­eral Rail­road Ad­min­is­tra­tion (FRA) on Fri­day re­leased the 2018 Quar­ter 2 sta­tus up­date on rail- roads’ self-re­ported progress to­ward im­ple­ment­ing pos­i­tive train con­trol (PTC) sys­tems.

The lat­est data, cur­rent as

of June 30, 2018, shows that 15 rail­roads have in­stalled 100 per­cent of the PTC sys­tem hard­ware that must be in­stalled for im­ple­men­ta­tion, based on a re­view of the rail­roads’ PTC Im­ple­men­ta­tion Plans and quar­terly progress re­ports for Quar­ter 2 of 2018. Twelve other rail­roads have in­stalled be­tween 95 and 99 per­cent of the PTC sys­tem hard­ware iden­ti­fied in their PTC Im­ple­men­ta­tion Plans. All rail­roads, ex­cept for one, that use spec­trum-based PTC sys­tems have ac­quired suf­fi­cient spec­trum.

This marks a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment from De­cem­ber 2016, where freight rail­roads had PTC ac­tive on just 16 per­cent of re­quired tracks, while pas­sen­ger rail­roads were at 24 per­cent.

In ad­di­tion, 14 rail­roads have ini­ti­ated suf­fi­cient rev­enue ser­vice demon­stra­tion (RSD) or met sub­sti­tute cri­te­ria, which is also one of the six statu­tory cri­te­ria needed to qual­ify for an al­ter­na­tive sched­ule. PTC sys­tems are in RSD or op­er­a­tion on ap­prox­i­mately 37,705 route miles (65 per­cent) of the nearly 58,000 route miles that are sub­ject to the statu­tory man­date.

“The rail­roads have achieved some sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments over the past year im­ple­ment­ing this safety tech­nol­ogy,” said FRA Ad­min­is­tra­tor Ron­ald L. Ba­tory. “While we are see­ing progress among a ma­jor­ity of rail­roads, we want to see ev­ery­one meet their re­quire­ments.”

Quar­ter 2 data shows a 25 per­cent drop in the num­ber of “at-risk” rail­roads from 12 to nine. FRA cur­rently con­sid­ers any rail­road that in­stalled less than 90 per­cent of its PTC sys­tem hard­ware as of June 30, 2018, to be at risk, as in­stal­la­tion of all PTC sys­tem hard­ware is only an ini­tial phase of im­ple­ment­ing a PTC sys­tem and only one of the six statu­tory cri­te­ria re­quired to qual­ify for an al­ter­na­tive sched­ule.

The nine at-risk rail­roads are: New Mex­ico Rail Run­ner Ex­press (Rio Metro), Cap­i­tal Metropoli­tan Trans­porta­tion Au­thor­ity, New Jer­sey Tran­sit, Al­ta­mont Cor­ri­dor Ex­press, Mary­land Area Re­gional Com­muter, Trin­ity Rail­way Ex­press, South Florida Re­gional Trans­porta­tion Au­thor­ity, Penin­sula Cor­ri­dor Joint Pow­ers Board (Cal­train) and Cen­tral Florida Rail Cor­ri­dor (SunRail). The nine at-risk rail­roads own or con­trol ap­prox­i­mately 665 route miles that are sub­ject to the statu­tory man­date, which is ap­prox­i­mately 1.1 per­cent of the route miles that must be gov­erned by a PTC sys­tem and 0.475 per­cent of the U.S. rail net­work.

Class I rail­roads and any en­tity that pro­vides in­ter­city or com­muter rail pas­sen­ger trans­porta­tion must fully im­ple­ment a PTC sys­tem on all re­quired route miles by Dec. 31, 2018, un­less a rail­road qual­i­fies for an al­ter­na­tive sched­ule un­der the Pos­i­tive Train Con­trol En­force­ment and Im­ple­men­ta­tion Act of 2015 (PTCEI Act). The PTCEI Act pro­vides that a rail­road’s al­ter­na­tive sched­ule, if any, must con­tain a dead­line that is as soon as prac­ti­ca­ble, but no later than Dec. 31, 2020.

Since Jan­uary 2017, DOT and FRA have taken sev­eral ac­tions to help fa­cil­i­tate and ex­pe­dite rail­roads’ re­quired im­ple­men­ta­tion of PTC sys­tems. Among them were:

• Sent let­ters in June 2017 to gover­nors and state de­part­ments of trans­porta­tion re­gard­ing any com­muter rail­road in the state that had in­stalled less than 50 per­cent of its PTC sys­tem hard­ware as of Dec. 31, 2016. FRA em­pha­sized the im­por­tance of the state gov­ern­ment en­sur­ing th­ese rail­roads have proper tech­ni­cal sup­port and suf­fi­cient over­sight of PTC sys­tem im­ple­men­ta­tion;

• Sent a Dec. 27, 2017, let­ter from Sec­re­tary Elaine L. Chao to all Class I rail­roads, in­ter­city pas­sen­ger rail­roads, and com­muter rail­roads stress­ing the ur­gency and im­por­tance of safely im­ple­ment­ing PTC sys­tems dur­ing the up­com­ing year and meet­ing the statu­tory dead­line;

• As­sisted the Fed­eral Tran­sit Ad­min­is­tra­tion in award­ing over $197 mil­lion in grants to com­muter rail­roads and state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments in fis­cal year (FY) 2017 for the in­stal­la­tion of PTC sys­tems;

• Held face-to-face meet­ings with the ma­jor PTC sys­tem ven­dors and sup­pli­ers and all 41 rail­roads sub­ject to the statu­tory man­date to im­ple­ment PTC sys­tems;

• En­gaged with Class I rail­roads, in­ter­city pas­sen­ger and com­muter rail­roads, and other rail­roads re­gard­ing com­pli­ance with the PTC reg­u­la­tions, and;

• Sent let­ters in June 2018 to the 12 rail­roads that re­mained at risk of nei­ther meet­ing the Dec. 31, 2018, dead­line nor the statu­tory cri­te­ria re­quired to qual­ify for an al­ter­na­tive sched­ule, specif­i­cally be­cause self-re­ported data from th­ese 12 rail­roads in­di­cated that each had in­stalled less than 85 per­cent of its PTC sys­tem hard­ware as of March 31, 2018.

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