U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas

New Bill Filed to Change Positive Train Control Mandate

Calling the current Federal Railroad Administration requirement "an example of regulatory excess that is costing America's businesses billions of dollars with no obvious benefits," sponsoring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison wants to ensure the mandate applies to the lines that will be used in 2015, not 2008 traffic patterns.

A bill has been filed by U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, to change the Federal Railroad Administration’s mandate that railroads install Positive Train Control technology on lines used to move passengers and highly toxic chemicals. They must implement the technology by December 2015 according to rail traffic patterns in 2008, when Congress passed this requirement.

Hutchison, ranking member on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, says traffic patterns for shipping toxic chemicals are changing because of new DOT and Transportation Security Administration regulations, and the result is that at least 10,000 route miles used in 2008 to move chemicals will not be used in 2015. "This is an example of regulatory excess that is costing America’s businesses billions of dollars with no obvious benefits," she said Feb. 8 in a news release announcing the bill's filing. "We must rein in the regulatory bureaucracy in order to unleash innovation and investment and spur job growth. This common-sense bill would reduce compliance costs without impacting the safety or security of our country's rail lines."

Co-sponsors of her bill are Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla.

FRA describes PTC systems as "integrated command, control, communications, and information systems for controlling train movements with safety, security, precision, and efficiency" and says they will improve railroad safety by significantly reducing the probability of collisions between trains, casualties to roadway workers, damage to their equipment, and over-speed accidents. PTC was placed on the National Transportation Safety Board's list of "Most Wanted" transportation safety improvements when the list was created in 1990.

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