Government Accountability Office issues report on positive train control

After the tragic Metrolink crash in Sept. 2008, both Metrolink and Metro pushed Congress to require positive train control systems across the nation. PTC, as it’s known, is a GIS-based system designed to locate trains on tracks and help prevent them from colliding.

Metrolink is in the midst of implementing a PTC system — part of several safety upgrades at the commuter railroad that serves Southern California. But there has also been pushback across the nation with some railroads resisting the cost of PTC.

Here is an update from Metro CEO Art Leahy and Metro’s government relations staff:

Government Accountability Office Issues Report on Positive Train Control

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) made public today a report on implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) systems. The report was shared last month with the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Senator John D. Rockefeller (D-WV).

The Rail Safety Improvement Act (RSIA) of 2008 mandated that PTC be installed on all commuter rails lines by 2015. The PTC provision in the RSIA was strongly backed by our U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and members of the Los Angeles County Congressional Delegation in the wake of the tragic Chatsworth Metrolink accident. Our U.S. Senators and House members continue to strongly support implementation of a PTC system on our Metrolink network and nationwide by 2015.

Our Board has taken a leadership role in supporting implementation of PTC systems by 2015 to ensure the safety of Metrolink riders and commuter rail riders nationwide. Notwithstanding the support of our Board and Los Angeles County’s elected federal officials, a concerted effort has been made by some in the railroad and transportation industry to lobby Congress and the Obama Administration for an extension of the 2015 PTC deadline. We have opposed any effort to extend the PTC deadline, whether at APTA meetings or by opposing congressional amendments that sought to water down the PTC provisions embedded in the RSIA.

The GAO report includes the following language on PTC:

“To help ensure that the Federal Railroad Administration manages its limited resources and provides flexibility to railroads in implementing PTC, Congress should consider amending RSIA as requested in the FRA’s August 2012 PTC Implementation Status Report to Congress, including granting FRA the authority to:

• extend the deadline on individual rail lines—when the need to do so can be demonstrated by the railroad and verified by FRA—to grant railroads incremental deadlines based on a case-by-case basis;

• grant provisional certification of PTC systems under controlled conditions before final system completion; and

• approve the use of alternative safety technologies in lieu of PTC to allow railroads to improve safety and meet many of the functions of PTC through other means.”

We will continue to engage the U.S. Department of Transportation and specifically the Federal Railroad Administration to register our opposition to any effort to weaken the PTC related safety provision in the RSIA. We will also continue to advocate among transportation stakeholders, Members of Congress and the Obama Administration that early implementation of PTC is consistent with our agency’s emphasis on safety. Further, we will also continue to advance the position that any alternative-PTC technology must offer the same, or greater, safety benefits as PTC and be interoperable with PTC systems. Please find here a link to the GAO’s PTC report.

Categories: Transportation News