Railroad News

Railroad Association Claims Positive Train Control Deadline Impossible

(Washington, DC – March 1, 2013)

Association of American Railroads President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger called the Congressionally-mandated 2015 deadline for installation and operation of the satellite-based “Positive Train Control” system on 60,000 route miles of railroads carrying either passenger trains or hazardous materials an impossibility, regardless of the stipulation in the “Federal Railway Safety Act” legislated in the wake of the 2008 Chatsworth, CA train collision tragedy, where a Los Angeles Metrolink locomotive engineer ran past red “stop” signals and plowed headlong into a standing Union Pacific freight train resulting in 25 deaths and another 135 non-fatal injuries.

Hamberger’s statement threw a wet blanket on the National Transportation Safety Board’s placing of the launch of the PTC system in 2013 as number one on the independent transportation accident investigatory body’s wish list for this year. Further complicating Congress’s desire to prevent any future Chatsworth-type human-error accidents.

“There may be segments of track across the country that will be PTC operable by the 2015 deadline, but completely implementing PTC on the more than 60,000 route miles required by the mandate is still not possible by 2015,” said the AAR chief. “Doing what is right and safe must steer this process, not a subjective deadline,” he continued.

According to the AAR, freight railroads have already spent more than $2.7 billion on PTC implementation since 2008.

“This is one of the most significant technological undertakings in transportation history. Safely implementing interoperable PTC cannot be rushed – we must get it right to ensure rail continues to be the safest way to move both people and goods,” Hamberger concluded.