The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced on 7 June its first-ever positive train control (PTC) symposium. The symposium will be held on June 15, 2018, in Washington, DC, and is intended to bring together FRA’s PTC experts and all 41 railroads congressionally mandated to implement PTC systems. Discussion will focus on the requirements for the December 31, 2018, statutory deadline and answers to industry questions.
“The PTC Symposium is the latest effort from FRA to ensure that each and every railroad is aware of their obligations and is equipped to meet the Congressionally mandated deadline,” said FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory.
In addition, FRA will hold two other PTC symposia this summer on important PTC-related matters. FRA will hold a second symposium on July 16, 2018, to discuss best practices for PTC system field testing and interoperability testing. The third symposium, on August 20, 2018, will cover lessons learned and best practices for PTC Safety Plans, which are necessary for host railroads to obtain PTC System Certification from FRA and to achieve full PTC system implementation under the statutory mandate.
Full implementation of a PTC system means that an FRA-certified and interoperable PTC system—including all hardware, software, and other components—has been fully installed, has been sufficiently tested, and is in operation on all route miles required to have operations governed by a PTC system under the mandate.
Since January 2017, the FRA has taken the following actions to help railroads with implementation of PTC systems:
- Sent letters in May 2017 to the 17 railroads that, as of December 31, 2016, FRA considered at risk of neither meeting the December 31, 2018, deadline nor meeting the statutory criteria required to qualify for an alternative schedule, specifically because self-reported data from 17 railroads indicated that each railroad had installed less than 50% of its PTC system hardware as of December 31, 2016;
- 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% of its PTC system hardware as of December 31, 2016. FRA emphasized the importance of the state government ensuring these railroads have proper technical support and sufficient oversight of PTC system implementation;
- Initiated enforcement actions in June and July 2017 against 14 railroads that either failed to complete the end-of-2016 hardware installation milestones that the railroad established in its PTC Implementation Plan or failed to submit a timely Annual PTC Progress Report to FRA by the statutory March 31, 2017, 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;
- Announced the $73 million Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for rail capital projects funded through the FY17 Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program;
- Announced the $250 million NOFO for PTC system implementation funded through the FY18 CRISI Program;
- Participated in NOFO webinars hosted by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA);
- Hosted stakeholder webinars to explain FY17 and FY18 grant funding;
- 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;
- Sent letters in April 2018 to 15 railroads that FRA considered at risk of neither meeting the December 31, 2018, deadline nor meeting the statutory criteria required to qualify for an alternative schedule, specifically because self-reported data from 15 railroads indicated that each railroad had installed less than 80-percent of its PTC system hardware as of December 31, 2017;
- Presented at several industry PTC meetings and working groups held by AAR and APTA, as well as supported a PTC Seminar with over 250 attendees sponsored by the Railway Systems Suppliers, Inc. (RSSI);
- Engaged with Class I railroads, intercity passenger and commuter railroads, and other railroads regarding compliance with the PTC regulations;
- Sent letters in June 2018 to the 12 railroads that remain at risk of neither meeting the December 31, 2018, deadline nor meeting the statutory criteria required to qualify for an alternative schedule, specifically because self-reported data from 12 railroads indicated that each railroad had installed less than 85-percent of its PTC system hardware as of March 31, 2018; and
- Sent letters in June 2018 to governors and state departments of transportation that have an at-risk commuter railroad in their states to encourage their direct involvement and support at this critical time.
To view the public version of each railroad’s Quarterly PTC Progress Report (Form FRA F 6180.165, OMB Control No. 2130-0553) for Quarter 1 of 2018, please visit each railroad’s PTC docket on https://www.regulations.gov/. Railroads’ PTC docket numbers are available at https://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0628
(Source: US DoT)