The Positive Train Control final rule could require significant additional safety investments by the industry.

AAR Weighing Positive Train Control Final Rule

Railroads and other stakeholders have until Feb. 14 to submit comments about the Federal Railroad Administration's rule, which would require significant additional safety investments by the rail industry.

The Federal Railroad Administration's final rule for positive train control systems, published Jan. 14, would require significant additional safety investments by the rail industry. Railroads and other stakeholders have until Feb. 14 to submit comments about it. The rule has moved swiftly to this point, with the NPRM published in July 2009 and a comment period concluded in August 2009.

"We are reviewing the FRA final rule on positive train control (PTC), which will have extensive and far-reaching impacts on our industry," the Association of American Railroads (AAR), said in a statement posted on its Web site. "Every day, safety is the number one priority for railroads, and implementing railroad safety technology has always been a part of our business. Before the Rail Safety Act of 2008 passed, railroads invested hundreds of millions of dollars in research and testing of more than a dozen different control technology systems, and today approximately 60 percent of the nation's mainline tracks are equipped with some type of signal or train control system, and over 80 percent of all rail traffic operates over those signalized routes. We will continue to participate in the rulemaking process, and plan to issue a detailed response to the rule at a later time."

The rule is categorized as major and economically significant, meaning its impact exceeds $100 million per year. It would require submission of PTC plans and use of those systems and would specify the qualification, installation, and maintenance of the systems.

On Jan. 14, AAR reported U.S. freight rail traffic is off to a slow start in 2010, with U.S. railroads originating 236,796 carloads for the week ending Jan. 9, which was down 12.4 percent from the same week in 2009 and 28 percent below the same week in 2008.

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