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Statement on Positive Train Control Implementation

Monday, December 31, 2018

All Railroads on Track to Meet Critical Congressional Requirements

WASHINGTON – The 41 railroads required by Congress to implement positive train control (PTC) systems by December 31, 2018 have submitted documentation that they assert is sufficient to meet the statutory requirements for system activation or the statutory requirements to qualify for an alternative schedule (“extension”) for up to two additional years to complete full implementation.

On October 29, 2015, the Positive Train Control Enforcement and Implementation Act of 2015 (PTCEI Act) was signed into law and extended the original statutory deadline for full implementation of PTC systems from December 31, 2015, to December 31, 2018.  The Act also established six unique criteria that a railroad must meet in order to qualify for an alternative schedule.  Under the PTCEI Act, each railroad subject to the congressional mandate must fully implement an FRA-certified and interoperable PTC system on all required main lines by December 31, 2018, unless a railroad qualifies for and obtains FRA’s approval of an alternative schedule and sequence pursuant to the PTCEI Act.  A railroad’s alternative schedule and sequence, if any, must contain a deadline for full PTC system implementation that is as soon as practicable, but not later than December 31, 2020.

The PTCEI Act requires FRA to approve a railroad’s alternative schedule and sequence if a railroad submits a written notification to FRA demonstrating, to FRA’s satisfaction, that the railroad has met the following six statutory criteria necessary to qualify for an alternative schedule:

  1. Installed, by December 31, 2018, all PTC system hardware that will be installed for PTC system implementation, consistent with the total amounts of hardware in the railroad’s PTC Implementation Plan (PTCIP);
  2. Acquired, by December 31, 2018, all spectrum necessary for implementation of the railroad’s PTC system, if applicable, consistent with the railroad’s PTCIP;
  3. Completed the employee training required under 49 CFR part 236, subpart I for all applicable personnel in any territory, or segment thereof, where the PTC system is currently in field testing or being operated in revenue service demonstration (RSD) or revenue service;
  4. Made sufficient progress on advanced testing or implementation:
    1. Amtrak and each Class I railroad must have implemented a PTC system or initiated FRA-approved RSD on the majority of territories (e.g., subdivisions or districts) or route miles the railroad owns or controls that are required to have operations governed by a PTC system;
    2. Any other railroad must have initiated FRA-approved RSD on at least one territory that is required to have operations governed by a PTC system, or met any other criteria established by FRA;
  5. Included in its PTCIP an alternative schedule and sequence for implementing a PTC system as soon as practicable, but not later than December 31, 2020; and
  6. Certified to FRA in writing that it will be in full compliance with the law 49 U.S.C. § 20157, on or before the deadline in the proposed alternative schedule and sequence.

As of today, 4 railroads have self-reported that they fully implemented an FRA-certified and interoperable PTC system on all of their required main lines:  the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH), North County Transit District, Portland & Western Railroad, and the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (Metrolink).  FRA sent each of these railroads a letter to acknowledge this significant, self-reported accomplishment, and these letters can be viewed in these railroads’ PTC dockets on https://regulations.gov (railroads’ PTC docket numbers are available on FRA’s website at https://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0628). 

As of December 31, 2018, 33 railroads have submitted a written notification requesting FRA’s review and approval of an alternative schedule, and each railroad provided documentation intended to demonstrate they met—or, in many cases, exceeded—the six statutory criteria necessary to qualify for an alternative schedule under the PTCEI Act. 

In addition, as part of these 33 requests, the applicable host railroads also provided supporting documentation for 3 additional, tenant-only commuter railroads to demonstrate that they also meet the statutory criteria.  In terms of the 41st railroad, in September 2018, FRA conditionally approved New Mexico Rail Runner Express’s (NMRX) request for a temporary main line track exception consistent with the statutory and regulatory definition of “main line” for purposes of PTC system implementation, based on NMRX’s limited operations and a risk mitigation plan it submitted jointly with its tenant railroads.  NMRX’s FRA-approved PTC Implementation Plan establishes that NMRX will fully implement a PTC system by December 31, 2020. 

Based on FRA’s review of railroads’ supporting documentation demonstrating they met the six statutory criteria under the PTCEI Act, FRA has approved nine railroads’ alternative schedules as of December 28, 2018, including, in chronological order, alternative schedules requested by BNSF Railway, Union Pacific Railroad, Norfolk Southern Railway, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, the Denver Regional Transportation District Commuter Rail, Kansas City Southern Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway, the Belt Railway Company of Chicago, and CSX Transportation, Inc.  FRA is reviewing the 24 other requests for approval of an alternative schedule to determine whether the railroads qualify by law, and FRA will issue its decisions in accordance with the statutory mandate’s 90-day procedures.  FRA will continue to make its decision letters available on railroads’ PTC dockets on https://regulations.gov as soon as possible.   

Through numerous venues of outreach and sustained communication, FRA has sought to hasten and facilitate the deployment of PTC in order to help railroads take necessary steps to comply with all statutory and regulatory requirements.  Secretary Elaine L. Chao sent a letter in December 2017 to all the railroads subject to the mandate, stressing the urgency and importance of meeting the statutory requirements, and under her steadfast leadership, she directed the FRA to prioritize PTC implementation. 

Since 2017, USDOT, through FRA and the Federal Transit Administration, has made significant investments in PTC deployment by awarding over $470 million in grants with another $46 million just this month.  Between January 1 and February 14, 2018, FRA Administrator Batory met with executive leadership and technical teams from each of the 41 railroads to assess their progress individually.  FRA leadership also met with each of the 10 major PTC system vendors and suppliers from March through May of 2018, and FRA hosted a second-round of meetings in October with the PTC system suppliers that were directly associated with the railroads most at risk of not meeting the statutory requirements by December 31st.  In addition, FRA has regularly written to governors and state departments of transportation to enlist their support for this important mandate.  In addition, FRA convened three-day long PTC symposia in June, July, and August to aid railroad efforts and convene railroad and government subject matter experts to provide technical assistance to the greatest extent possible in an industry-wide forum. 

The FRA will continue to hold railroads accountable in adhering to their own stated full implementation timetables through rigorous regulatory and programmatic enforcement. To manage the immense task of achieving full system functionality on every railroad, FRA will continue to actively monitor railroads’ compliance with their own required PTC Implementation Plans and help ensure they continue to satisfy and fulfill numerous technological, procedural and operational milestones and benchmarks.  FRA’s PTC specialists and field inspectors are engaged with every affected railroad on a continuous basis. They will continue to ensure regulatory compliance by: undertaking meticulous reviews of lengthy and highly complex PTC filings; performing on-site inspections; and providing technical assistance to monitor progress and ensure regulatory compliance.

Based upon railroad self-reporting, as of the third quarter of 2018, the percentage of track segments completed is 94% for freight railroads and 77% for passenger.  This compares to 20% for freight and 13% for passenger as of the third quarter of 2016.  2018 yielded many positive results and highlighted great collaboration between industry and government.  However, significant work remains to be done in order to ensure additional field testing, interoperability, and full implementation arrive as soon as possible.   

Railroad’s Quarterly PTC Progress Reports for Quarter 4 of 2018 must be submitted to FRA by January 31, 2019. 

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Summary by Railroad

Summary (Received):  As of Friday, December 21, 2018, 33 railroads (all 7 Class I railroads, 21 commuter or intercity passenger railroads, and 5 Class II/III, short line, or terminal railroads) submitted a written notification formally requesting FRA’s review and approval of an alternative schedule and sequence and provided documentation intended to demonstrate they met the six statutory criteria necessary to qualify for an alternative schedule and sequence under the Positive Train Control Enforcement and Implementation Act of 2015 (PTCEI Act).  FRA will issue its decisions in accordance with the PTCEI Act’s required 90-day procedures.

Summary (Approved):  As of Friday, December 28, 2018, FRA has approved nine railroads’ alternative schedules and sequences as they sufficiently demonstrated they met the six statutory criteria to qualify for an alternative schedule and sequence by law. FRA’s decisions letters are, and will continue to be, posted in railroads’ public PTC dockets on https://regulations.gov (railroads’ PTC docket numbers are available at https://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0628).

 

Railroad

Receipt of Documentation Requesting Alternative Schedule

1.

BNSF

June 13, 2018

2.

UP

September 20, 2018

3.

MBTA

September 21, 2018

4.

NS

September 25, 2018

5.

CP

September 26, 2018

6.

RTDC

September 27, 2018

7.

KCS

October 2, 2018

8.

BRC

October 12, 2018

9.

Metra

October 29, 2018

10.

CSXT

November 6, 2018

11.

CN

November 7, 2018

12.

Amtrak

November 16, 2018

13.

SEPTA

November 20, 2018

14.

KCT

November 30, 2018

15.

LIRR

November 30, 2018

16.

SFRTA

December 5, 2018

17.

CMTY

December 6, 2018

18.

NICD

December 7, 2018

19.

TRE

December 7, 2018

20.

UFRC

December 10, 2018

21.

Conrail

December 10, 2018

22.

TRRA

December 12, 2018

23.

ARR

December 13, 2018

24.

Caltrain

December 14, 2018

25.

ACE

December 14, 2018

26.

NJT

December 14, 2018

27.

CFRC

December 17, 2018

28.

MARC

December 17, 2018

29.

DCTA

December 20, 2018

30.

VRE

December 20, 2018

31.

MNR

December 21, 2018

32.

FECR

December 21, 2018

33.

SMART

December 21, 2018

Notes Regarding the Eight Other Railroads Not Listed Above

  • Four Additional Railroads
    • In addition to the railroads listed above, please note that BNSF Railway’s written notification also included supporting documentation regarding two additional, tenant-only commuter railroads (Northstar Commuter Rail and Sound Transit) that met the statutory criteria, and Amtrak’s written notification also included supporting documentation regarding one additional, tenant-only commuter railroad (Connecticut DOT). 
    • On September 20, 2018, FRA conditionally approved New Mexico Rail Runner Express’s (NMRX) request for a temporary main line track exception consistent with the statutory and regulatory definition of “main line” for purposes of PTC system implementation, based on NMRX’s limited operations and a risk mitigation plan it submitted jointly with its tenant railroads.  NMRX’s FRA-approved PTC Implementation Plan establishes that NMRX will fully implement a PTC system by December 31, 2020. 
  • Full PTC System Implementation (Self-reported) – To date, four railroads have self-reported that they fully implemented an FRA-certified and interoperable PTC system on their required main lines by December 31, 2018.  , FRA sent each of these railroads a letter to acknowledge this significant, self-reported accomplishment, and these letters can be viewed in these railroads’ PTC dockets on https://regulations.gov (railroads’ PTC docket numbers are available on FRA’s website at https://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0628). 
    • North County Transit District,
    • Port Authority Trans-Hudson,
    • Portland & Western Railroad, and
    • Southern California Regional Rail Authority (Metrolink).

Other Information

  • As of December 31, 2018, 12 railroads have obtained conditional PTC System Certification from FRA, permitting them to operate their PTC systems in revenue service on the general rail network.
  • Over 41,000 route miles are currently in PTC operation, 71% of the nearly 58,000 route miles that are subject to the statutory mandate.
  • Interoperability testing between host railroads and tenant railroads has commenced systematically.
  • Full PTC System Implementation:  As noted, above, as of December 31, 2018, four railroads have self-reported that they fully implemented a PTC system on their required main lines, and all trains on their main lines are governed by a PTC system, including tenant railroads’ trains:
    • North County Transit District (Southern California)
    • Port Authority Trans-Hudson (NY/NJ)
    • Portland & Western Railroad (Washington State)
    • Metrolink (Southern California)
  • Alternative Schedules or Extensions:  37 railroads have requested an extension (formally referred to as an “alternative schedule” in the statute), and most stated they require two more years to complete full PTC system implementation (i.e., December 31, 2020).
    • 7 Class I Railroads – extension primarily for tenant railroads and to finish implementing PTC systems on ~29% of required mileage in total
    • 25 Intercity Passenger and Commuter Railroads – extension to complete testing, obtain PTC System Certification, and full implementation
    • 5 Short Line/Terminal Railroads – extension to complete testing, obtain PTC System Certification, and full implementation

For further information, please visit https://www.fra.dot.gov/ptc

 
 
Updated: Monday, December 31, 2018
Updated: Monday, January 28, 2019