September 18, 2014

House bill would slash Amtrak, transit funding

WASHINGTON – The Republican leadership of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee will introduce legislation July 8 to slash Amtrak’s federal subsidy by 25 percent, prevent federal funds from being used to create additional rail passenger services unless they are high-speed projects, and cut federal transit funding by 30 percent. Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.), and [...]

PTC installation could be trimmed 10,000 miles

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration suggests scaling back by 10,000 miles a federal mandate that positive train control (PTC) be installed on some 140,000 miles of freight and passenger track no later than Dec. 31, 2015. The 10,000 miles represents track over which freight railroads say neither passengers nor dangerous hazmat will be transported in [...]

Why PTC? ‘Cause people aren’t hogs & logs

WASHINGTON — Two commuter railroads — Los Angeles Metrolink and Chicago Metra – get it. They recognize that commuters aren’t hogs and logs on freight trains, and passenger and crew safety is paramount. Unfortunately, 24 other commuter railroads don’t get it. Under the umbrella of the American Public Transit Association (APTA), those other commuter railroads [...]

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 [...]

Senate bill would cut track miles for PTC

WASHINGTON — The senior Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, introduced legislation Feb. 8 to reduce the rail route miles over which positive train control (PTC) must be implemented before January 2016. Senate co-sponsors include John Thune (R-S.D.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). The Rail Safety Improvement Act [...]

Record profits, but UP opposes PTC costs

On the same day (Jan. 20) Union Pacific reported record fourth quarter and record calendar year 2010 profits, UP Chairman Jim Young said he is headed to Washington to meet with President Obama’s economic advisers to oppose a congressional mandate that railroads implement crash-avoidance positive train control by year-end 2015. UP told investors its 2010 [...]

Alert commuter rail crew saves life near Boston

STOUGHTON, Mass. — An alert and ever vigilant Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad crew — that recognized the difference between a bag of clothes between the tracks and a human being — saved a life in this Boston suburb last week. The MBCR crew, with engineer Chris Holm at the throttle and conductor John Gibbs (UTU [...]

PTC: What it is, how it works

Los Angeles Metrolink — a 512-mile commuter rail system, which serves the Southern California counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernadino and Ventura — is moving to be the first railroad to install and implement a positive train control (PTC) system. PTC is collision avoidance technology that monitors and controls train movements remotely, can [...]

Progressive approach to PTC in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES — A former Federal Railroad Administration chief safety officer, Jim Schultz, who later became a highly respected safety officer at CSX, is advising Los Angeles Metrolink as it moves to lead the rail industry in installing and implementing a positive train control system on Metrolink’s seven-route, 512-mile system serving the Southern California counties [...]

Controversy over PTC business benefits

Railroads are campaigning hard to get federal funding for all or part of the cost of developing and deploying a positive train control (PTC) system, writes Larry Kaufman in Rail Business newsletter. There are two elements to the PTC issue. Most aggravating, the railroads are on the hook to invest anywhere from $5 billion to [...]