FRA proposes rule for PTC systems

Posted on July 16, 2009

On Thursday, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo announced proposed rules designed to prevent train collisions through the use of Positive Train Control (PTC). The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) prescribes how railroads must use PTC systems to prevent train-to-train collisions.

PTC technology is capable of automatically controlling train speeds and movements should a locomotive engineer fail to take appropriate action. Other benefits of PTC systems include prevention of over-speed derailments and misaligned switches, as well as unauthorized incursions by a train into work zones.

"These proposed rules give railroads the framework to use this life-saving technology," said LaHood. "We believe this is an important step toward making freight, intercity and commuter rail lines safer for the benefit of communities across the country."

Under the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, major freight railroads and intercity and commuter rail operators must submit their plans for PTC to FRA for approval by April, 16, 2010. PTC systems must be fully in place by the end of 2015. The proposed rules will specify how the technically complex PTC systems must function and indicate how FRA will assess a railroad's PTC plan before it can become operational.


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