WASHINGTON, D.C. – January 28, 2020 – At the end of 2019, Positive Train Control (PTC) was in operation across the vast majority – 98.5 percent – of the required Class I route miles according to newly released data from the Association of American Railroads. The nation’s largest railroads remain on track to meet the final deadline for full implementation of the critical safety technology, December 31, 2020, with several railroads already operating the technology across their entire required PTC footprint. For the remainder of this year, the Class I railroads will continue to focus on testing to ensure that PTC systems are fully interoperable and work seamlessly across operations as railroads regularly run across each other’s tracks.

“America’s freight railroads will finish the job on PTC by the final December 2020 deadline,” said AAR president and CEO Ian Jefferies. “PTC – coupled with other advanced technologies – drives down risk and fuels railroads’ next leap forward to ensure our people, infrastructure and equipment are safer than ever. Railroads are committed to an accident-free future, and fully implementing PTC continues our industry’s progress toward that ultimate target.”

As of December 31, 2019, the Class I railroads had invested $11.47 billion in the development, installation, and implementation of PTC and had the technology in operation across 53,001 miles of their 53,676 miles of PTC-required track. As required by law, all seven railroads had installed all necessary wayside, back office, and locomotive hardware; had all spectrum in place; and completed all necessary employee training as of December 31, 2018.

What is required by law?

PTC as mandated by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA) must be designed to prevent four major types of train accidents:

  • Train-to-train collisions.
  • Derailments caused by excessive speed.
  • Unauthorized incursions by trains into sections of track where maintenance activities are taking place.
  • Movement of a train through a track switch left in the wrong position.

The statutory deadlines established by Congress required that by December 31, 2018 Class I railroads must have:

  • All hardware installed.
  • All radio spectrum acquired.
  • Over 50% of PTC territory or route miles implemented.
  • Training completed for all employees operating in PTC-enabled territory.

All Class I railroads met the December 2018 requirements, which allowed them up to an additional 24 months to test and ensure the system is fully interoperable. Interoperability means that the system works with any PTC-equipped locomotive running on any of the railroad tracks through the United States where PTC is required. By December 31, 2020, all Class I railroads must have:

  • Testing completed.
  • Full PTC implementation across the network.

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About AAR: The Association of American Railroads (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. Learn more at www.aar.org.

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