Other Reports

Implementation of Positive Train Control: Report to the Federal Railroad Administrator

  • 08
  • Sep
  • 1999
AUTHOR: Railroad Safety Advisory Committee
SUBJECT: Positive Train Control
KEYWORDS: Forecasted Railroad Traffic, PTC Operations, Rail Safety
ABSTRACT: This Report of the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) describes the status of efforts to develop, test, demonstrate and deploy Positive Train Control (PTC) systems and describes actions that should be taken to provide an appropriate climate for implementation of those systems. The report focuses on the safety dimensions of PTC, but also addresses other benefits that railroads and the society at large may realize if PTC is implemented successfully and at a sustainable cost. The report sounds a cautionary note, because railroads and suppliers are currently estimating very substantial costs for implementation of the more capable forms of PTC. Many railroads believe that they have identified means of enhancing the efficiency of their operations and the quality of their service without the necessity of deploying PTC systems, as such. On the other hand, planned investments in enhanced computer-aided dispatching, locomotive cab electronics, and position tracking could be expected to reduce the cost of implementing PTC systems in the future, and today’s substantial costs for wayside components could be expected to decline when firm investment decisions are made on a large scale. Accordingly, the RSAC will continue to support efforts to promote and develop PTC systems. The major freight railroads have joined the State of Illinois and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in launching development of a version of PTC that could serve as the foundation for mixed freight and highspeed passenger operations, providing enhanced system capacity as well as ensuring a very high level of safety. Other planned safety-relevant projects, which in general are intended to “overlay” rather than replace the primary means of controlling trains and protecting roadway workers, will be evaluated to ensure that they will achieve acceptable levels of safety when implemented. The Committee recommends additional actions that can contribute to a favorable climate for deployment of PTC systems in the future.
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