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September 14, 2018

U.S. freight railroads set to meet positive train control deadline

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reports that America's freight railroads are on track to meet - and far exceed - the December 31st deadline for installing positive train control (PTC) technology, which will make an already safe network even safer.

During a Congressional hearing this week, AAR's Ed Hamberger outlined the Class I railroads' recent progress in the development and deployment of this transformative safety technology as well as what to expect moving forward. Amtrak's Chief Operating Officer Scot Naparstek also testified about the great strides Amtrak has made in coordinating with host freight railroads and implementing PTC across its routes.

PTC is a sophisticated set of technologies designed to automatically stop a train before certain accidents caused by human error can occur. The four primary types of train accidents it targets include: train-to-train collisions; derailments caused by excessive speed; unauthorized incursions by trains onto sections of track where maintenance is taking place; and the movement of a train through a track switch left in the wrong position.

To do this, PTC integrates an onboard locomotive system to monitor a train's position and speed and activate braking as necessary; a wayside system to track signals, switches and track circuits; and a back office server to store all information necessary to enforce operations restrictions, such as speed limits and train composition, and transmit that information to each individual onboard locomotive system. PTC's backbone connecting it all together is a wireless data communications system capable of handling the vast amount of data and then quickly and seamlessly transmitting the information between them.

Source: AAR