Editors Note: 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 NOT 11 percent as previously reported.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today released the 2018 Quarter 2 status update on railroads’ 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 9. 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 December 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 December 31, 2020.
To request FRA’s approval of a railroad’s alternative schedule to complete testing, certification, interoperability, and full implementation beyond December 31, 2018, a railroad must submit a written notification to FRA when it has met the statutory criteria necessary to qualify for an alternative schedule and is ready for FRA’s review and approval. The PTCEI Act requires FRA to approve a railroad’s alternative schedule if a railroad demonstrates in a written notification that it has met all statutory criteria for an alternative schedule, including that it has: (1) installed, by December 31, 2018, all PTC system hardware consistent with the governing PTC Implementation Plan; (2) acquired, by December 31, 2018, all spectrum necessary to implement its PTC system consistent with the governing PTC Implementation Plan; and, (3) made sufficient progress on employee training, revenue service demonstration, and other criteria as specified under the PTCEI Act.
Since January 2017, DOT and FRA have taken the following actions to help facilitate and expedite railroads’ required 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 percent 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 percent 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;
- Sent a December 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;
- Announced the $73 million Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for rail capital projects funded through the FY 2017 Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program;
- Announced the $250 million NOFO for PTC system implementation funded through the FY 2018 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 FY 2017 and FY 2018 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 the statutory criteria required to qualify for an alternative schedule, specifically because self-reported data from these 15 railroads indicated that each 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 remained at risk of neither meeting the December 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;
- 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;
- Held ongoing quarterly meetings with at-risk railroads and engaged with them regularly throughout the year;
- Initiated enforcement actions in June and July 2018 against each of the 13 railroads that failed to complete one or more of the end-of-2017 hardware installation milestones and/or spectrum acquisition milestones from its PTC Implementation Plan, as is consistent with FRA’s commitment to helping ensure railroads comply with the statutory mandate, including interim requirements;
- Held three PTC symposiums with railroads to discuss statutory requirements, PTC systems testing and PTC system certification;
- Issued revised PTC guidance regarding interoperability testing; Operations and Maintenance Manual requirements; and the responsibilities of a host railroad and its tenant railroads with respect to a host railroad’s PTC Safety Plan and FRA’s certification of PTC systems; and,
- Issued the 2018 Report to Congress on Railroads’ Progress Toward Implementation of Positive Train Control Systems.
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 2 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.