May 10, 2012

Feds revise positive train control requirements

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced changes to regulations governing the installation of positive train control (PTC) equipment that will give railroads additional flexibility, save money and maintain a high level of safety.  

Under the announced revisions, railroads will no longer have to conduct risk analyses to obtain approval to not install PTC or take other costly risk mitigation measures on an estimated 10,000 miles of track that will not carry passenger trains or poison inhalation hazard commodities after December 2015.

Railroads are expected to save approximately $335 million over the first five years, and up to $775 million over 20 years, by utilizing safety measures other than PTC, where appropriate.

PTC is a system of integrated technologies capable of preventing collisions, over-speed derailments and unintended train movements.

Earlier this year, President Obama called for a government-wide review of regulations in order to identify those that needed to be changed or removed because they were unnecessary, out-of-date, excessively burdensome or overly costly.

The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 mandates widespread installation of PTC systems by December 2015 on rail lines which carry at least five million gross tons of freight annually, on Class I railroads that ship PIH commodities, and on lines where intercity passenger rail and commuter service is regularly operated.

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