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Railroad Industry Image Credit: AppleMagazine
Railroad Industry Image Credit: AppleMagazine

US Officials Say Key Rail Safety Technology 90% Complete

The railroad industry has installed safety technology on nearly 90% of tracks where it is required, federal officials said, but “significant work” is needed to ensure the technology is completely installed by a December 2020 deadline.

Federal Railroad Administration chief Ronald Batory told a Senate committee that technology is known as positive train control, or PTC, is in operation on more than 50,000 route miles (80,000 kilometers) of the nearly 58,000 miles (93,000 kilometers) where it is required. The GPS-based technology is intended to prevent deadly crashes by automatically stopping or slowing a train before a collision or derailment. Congress required in 2008 that railroads adopt PTC and gave them seven years to do the job. When it became clear that wasn’t enough, Congress extended the deadline through 2018 and again through Dec. 31, 2020. No more extensions are expected.

At a hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, Batory praised the railroad industry for “its significant progress” toward fully putting PTC systems in place nationwide, despite a series of delays that pushed the current deadline to 12 years after Congress initially adopted the law.

“Nonetheless, railroads must still complete significant work to fully implement their PTC systems by December 31, 2020,” he said, adding that the railroad agency “will continue to hold railroads accountable for timely implementation of PTC systems and will enforce the statutory mandate.”

The industry expects to spend nearly $15 billion


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