Transportation Department announces installation of automatic train brake systems

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced that the Federal Railroad Administration implemented positive train control, or PTC, technology on 57,536 freight and passenger railroad miles ahead of a Dec. 31 deadline set by Congress on Tuesday. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI

Dec. 30 (UPI) — U.S. Department of Transportation officials on Tuesday announced the implementation of the positive train control automatic braking system ahead of a federal deadline.

The Federal Railroad Administration announced that the positive train control, or PTC, technology was in operation on all 57,536 required freight and passenger railroad miles ahead of the Thursday deadline set by Congress.

“Achieving 100% PTC implementation is a tremendous accomplishment and reflects the Department’s top priorities — safety, innovation and infrastructure,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said.

The PTC systems are operated by train and track operators through controls aboard trains and along the tracks.

They can automatically slow trains that exceed speed limits, prevent trains from traveling down the incorrect tracks if switches are in the wrong position, and prevent collisions by keeping two trains from being on the same track.

Implementation of PTC systems was mandated by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 for Class I railroads’ main lines that transport more than 5 million or more gross tons of annual traffic and certain hazardous materials as well as main lines where intercity or commuter rail passenger transportation is regularly provided.

Overall, 41 railroads were required to install PTC systems, including seven Class I railroads, Amtrak, 28 commuter railroads and five freight railroads.

Class I railroads invested $11.5 billion into the system and the Transportation Department provided $3.4 billion in grant and loan funding.


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