FRA Hosts First Positive Train Control Symposium

The agency will host two more this summer: July 16, focused on best practices for PTC system field testing and interoperability testing, and Aug. 20, focused on lessons learned and best practices for PTC Safety Plans.

The Federal Railroad Administration hosted its first positive train control (PTC) symposium on June 15 in Washington, D.C., an event intended to bring together FRA's PTC experts and all 41 railroads congressionally mandated to implement PTC systems. The discussion focused on the requirements for the Dec. 31, 2018, statutory deadline and answering the rail industry's 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," FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory said.

The agency said it also will host two more symposia this summer on important PTC-related matters. The next one, on July 16, will discuss best practices for PTC system field testing and interoperability testing. The third symposium, on Aug. 20, 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.

FRA says 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.

Among the actions FRA has taken in connection with implementation of PTC systems are these:

  • Sent letters in May 2017 to the 17 railroads that, as of Dec. 31, 2016, FRA considered at risk of neither meeting the Dec. 31, 2018, deadline nor meeting the statutory criteria required to qualify for an alternative schedule. Self-reported data from the 17 railroads indicated they had installed less than 50 percent of their required PTC system hardware as of Dec. 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 Dec. 31, 2016. The letters emphasized the importance of the state government ensuring those railroads have proper technical support and sufficient oversight of PTC system implementation.
  • Assisted the Federal Transit Administration in awarding more than $197 million in grants to commuter railroads and state and local governments in fiscal year 2017 for the installation of PTC systems.

  • Held meetings with the major PTC system vendors and suppliers and all 41 railroads subject to the statutory mandate to implement PTC systems.
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