November 24, 2014

FRA to scale back miles for PTC installation

WASHINGTON — The Federal Railroad Administration has agreed to a request by railroads to scale back the number of rail route miles over which positive train control (PTC) must be implemented before January 2016.

Railroads asserted that since the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 was passed ordering the PTC installation, followed by an FRA order mandating its implementation on 73,000 miles of track carrying hazmat and passengers, rerouting of hazmat trains has reduced the affected trackage.

New traffic patterns for shipping toxic chemicals means some 10,000 miles of track used to move the chemicals in 2008 are no longer expected to transport those products by 2016, said the railroads.

The FRA will institute a new rulemaking proposing to reduce the number of route miles by the 10,000-mile figure, which railroads say will save them hundreds of millions of dollars in installation costs.

An FRA spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal, “This settlement is consistent with the president’s recently issued Executive Order 13563 requiring agencies to review their significant rules and ensure that the safety benefits derived justify the costs imposed.”

PTC is a collision-avoidance overlay system for locomotives, using global positioning satellites and computer software.