Positive Train Control


In 2008, Congress required Class I railroad main lines handling poisonous-inhalation-hazard materials and any railroad main lines with regularly scheduled intercity and commuter rail passenger service to fully implement Positive Train Control (PTC) by December 31, 2015. PTC uses communication-based/processor-based train control technology that provides a system capable of reliably and functionally preventing train-to-train collisions, overspeed derailments, incursions into established work zone limits, and the movement of a train through a main line switch in the wrong position.

In late 2015, Congress extended the deadline by at least three years to December 31, 2018, with the possibility of an extension to a date no later than December 31, 2020, if a railroad completes certain statutory requirements that are necessary to obtain an extension. The legislation, the Positive Train Control Enforcement and Implementation Act of 2015, required that railroads submit a revised PTC Implementation Plan (PTCIP) by January 27, 2016, outlining when and how the railroad would have a system fully installed and activated.

FRA continues to support railroads in implementing PTC. That assistance includes:

  • Providing approximately $925 million in grants to support railroads' development and implementation of PTC systems, including nearly $400 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding, $25 million in fiscal year 2016 Railroad Safety Technology Program funding, and $197 million in funding administered by the Federal Transit Administration under the FAST Act.
  • Issuing a nearly $1 billion loan to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to implement PTC on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad.
  • Building a PTC testbed in Pueblo, Colorado.
  • Making $25 million available in competitive grant funding to railroads, suppliers, and state and local governments.
  • Working directly with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to resolve issues related to spectrum use and improve the approval process for PTC communication towers.
  • Dedicating staff to continue work on PTC implementation in March 2010, including establishing a PTC task force.

PTC Document Submission: Railroads meeting the requirements for PTC implementation must submit for FRA approval various PTC-related documents. Those documents are available on www.regulations.gov under each railroad's PTC docket number.

For resources related to PTC grants, please visit Railroad Safety Technology Grants.

 PTC Statutory Timeline

To view detailed information, click on the timeline to enlarge.

PTC Statutory Timeline

Each Railroad's Progress Towards Meeting Statutory Criteria for an Alternative Schedule

The graphic below displays the progress each railroad has made towards meeting the statutory criteria to obtain FRA's approval of a limited deadline extension to a date no later than December 31, 2020.

For more information on a specific railroad’s progress toward PTC implementation, see their PTC Progress Reports.


Railroads At-Risk of Not Meeting the Statutory Criteria to Qualify for an Alternative Schedule and Sequence

The graphic below provides monthly status updates from railroads that were considered to be at risk of not meeting the statutory criteria necessary to qualify for an alternative schedule and sequence under the congressional mandate as of quarter 3 of 2018 (Sept. 30, 2018). FRA will update this graphic at the end of November and December to provide the public with up-to-date information.

At-risk Railroads Q3 2018

Latest PTC Implementation Status By Railroad

The graphic below is a summary of current PTC implementation status broken down by major implementation categories, as reported in each railroad’s quarterly update on PTC implementation progress.

Screenshot for PTC chart by Railroad

PTC Implementation Status By Freight and Passenger Rail

The graphic below provides a summary of current overall PTC implementation status collectively by freight and passenger railroads.

To view current PTC implementation status for a specific railroad, see PTC implementation status by railroad.

For additional detail on PTC technology, visit PTC system information.

PTC Implementation Status by Freight and Passenger Rail