Washington, D.C. — December 29, 2020 — Today, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced that America’s passenger and freight railroads have met or surpassed the statutory requirements for Positive Train Control (PTC) outlined in the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA). After years of tireless, methodical work, the nation’s railroads have created a fully interoperable PTC system capable of automatically stopping a train before certain human error related accidents occur.

“America’s railroads have reached an important milestone this year that will enhance safety and springboard innovation long into the future,” said Ian Jefferies, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads. “While the industry is proud of this accomplishment, the job is never finished. Railroads will remain forward-looking and continue advancing safety through innovation and technology.”

The nation’s largest railroads, known as Class Is, invested nearly $11.5 billion to develop, install and implement fully interoperable PTC systems across 53,676 miles of PTC-required track. These individual systems were designed to work seamlessly across operations as railroads regularly run across each other’s tracks. Moving forward, railroads will continue to invest in maintaining and upgrading their PTC systems so they can deliver critical safety benefits.

Beyond safety, PTC systems and their foundational components hold promise to drive further efficiencies and innovation across the nation’s rail network. Armed with detailed geomapping, advanced communications systems and upgraded locomotive hardware, railroads are working to unlock the promise of this technology to improve efficiency and drive further operational innovations. This gradual, disciplined process will be fully integrated into railroad’s ongoing efforts to enhance reliability and better serve their customers.

PTC is an essential part – but only one part – of the rail industry’s ongoing technological transformation. Thanks to steady, substantial investments in infrastructure, equipment and technology – $26 billion a year on average – America’s railroads are modernizing to move more freight more efficiently, safely and environmentally friendly. Technology is moving freight rail – and in turn the U.S. economy – forward.


For more information contact: AAR Media Relations at [email protected] or 202-639-2345.

About AAR: The AAR is the world’s leading railroad policy, research and technology organization focusing on the safety and productivity of rail carriers. AAR members include the major freight railroads of the U.S., Canada and Mexico, as well as Amtrak.

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