Positive Train Control (PTC)

Overview

PTC Implementation Progress 2019 Q1PTC Implementation Progress: As of December 31, 2018, four host railroads self-reported that they fully implemented PTC systems on their required main lines.  Also, two tenant-only commuter railroads reported that they have been operating with PTC since 2017.  All other railroads subject to the statutory mandate met, or surpassed, the six statutory criteria necessary to qualify for an alternative schedule by law.

Each railroad subject to the mandate must submit quarterly reports to FRA until a PTC system is fully implemented on all of its required main lines, including a report for the quarter in which the railroad completes full PTC system implementation.  Based on railroads’ self-reported information, FRA publishes detailed graphics each quarter summarizing the industry’s progress and each railroad’s incremental progress toward completing the major requirements of full PTC system implementation.  With all necessary PTC system hardware installed, spectrum acquired, and testing having been initiated as of December 31, 2018, the key remaining steps for full implementation include conducting advanced testing on the general rail system, known as revenue service demonstration (RSD), submitting a PTC Safety Plan and obtaining PTC System Certification from FRA, achieving interoperability between host railroads and tenant railroads, and activating the PTC system so it governs all operations on the required main lines.

From 2016 through 2018, FRA previously published railroads’ quarterly progress in these graphics: Steps Towards Full Implementation of Mandated PTC Systems (Q4 2018)Each Railroads Progress Towards Meeting Statutory Criteria for an ExtensionPTC Implementation Status by Railroad, and PTC Implementation Status by Freight and Passenger Rail.  For more information on a specific railroad’s current and past quarterly and annual progress toward PTC implementation, see their PTC Progress Reports.

PTC Document Submission: Railroads that are subject to the statutory mandate must submit various PTC-related documents to FRA and obtain written approval.  Those documents, including PTC Implementation Plans, requests to conduct testing of uncertified PTC systems on the general rail network (including RSD), PTC Safety Plans, and FRA’s decision letters are available on www.regulations.gov under each railroad's PTC docket number, which are generally listed at https://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0628.

PTC Background: In 2008, Congress passed and the President signed the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 requiring PTC systems to be fully implemented by December 31, 2015, on Class I railroads’ main lines that transport  poison- or toxic-by-inhalation hazardous materials and any main lines with regularly scheduled intercity or commuter rail passenger service.  In October 2015, Congress extended the deadline for full implementation by at least three years to December 31, 2018, and required FRA to approve any railroad’s request for an “alternative schedule and sequence” with a final deadline not later than December 31, 2020, if a railroad demonstrated it met certain statutory criteria by December 31, 2018.  PTC systems use communication-based and processor-based train control technology to reliably and functionally prevent train-to-train collisions, overspeed derailments, incursions into established work zone limits, and movements of trains through switches in the wrong position.  FRA will continue to perform comprehensive oversight, provide technical assistance to all applicable host railroads and tenant railroads, and work with other stakeholders, including railroad associations and PTC system vendors and suppliers, until all railroads subject to the mandate fully implement FRA-certified and interoperable PTC systems by the statutory deadline. 

PTC Grants and Loans: US DOT has provided grants and loans for PTC system implementation through the following programs:

FRA-hosted Symposia and PTC Collaboration Sessions: Beginning in 2018 and planned through 2020, FRA hosts a series of collaboration sessions intended to bring together railroads, railroad associations, and FRA’s PTC experts.  Topics have included statutory and regulatory requirements, testing best practices, and PTC System Certification.  All past materials can be found below: