Q2 2020 PTC Update: Two commuter railroads removed from “at risk” list, two remain

Aug. 13, 2020
Overall, FRA says it is “highly pleased” with the progress the rail industry has made in the second quarter with the final deadline now slightly more than four months away.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released the railroads’ Second Quarter 2020 PTC Progress Reports, which marks advancement toward implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC). The final deadline to have the safety system installed and implemented is about 20 weeks away.  

FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory said he was “highly pleased” by progress all railroads made during the second quarter. FRA reports nearly all railroads subject to the mandate are operating their systems in revenue service or in advanced field testing. Commuter railroads delivered a 12.9 percent increase in route miles governed by PTC in Q2 compared to Q1. As of June 30, 2020, 76.1 percent of commuter railroads’ mandated route miles were governed by PTC technology and PTC technology remains to be activated on approximately 690 required commuter rail route miles.

“While more work lies ahead, the significant advancements made thus far are encouraging. I applaud all railroads involved in this unprecedented effort for their intensive collaboration to get all concerned to the finish line,” said Administrator Batory.

Two commuter railroads, Metra and TEXRail, were removed from the “at risk” list due to their substantial progress in Quarter 2 of 2020. Both railroads entered RSD on 100 percent of their required main lines and submitted their PTC Safety Plans and are now focusing on completing interoperability by the December deadline.

“This is the kind of synergy, partnership and cooperation we want to encourage,” said Batory, adding that FRA continues to direct additional staff resources to support railroads at risk of not fully implementing an FRA-certified and interoperable PTC system by the end-of-year deadline.

Two passenger railroads, New Jersey Transit and New Mexico Rail Runner Express, remain “at risk” of being non-compliant with the law to have PTC implemented by Dec. 31, 2020. Rail Runner service has been suspended since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the railroad said PTC work would continue.

As of June 30, NJ Transit has 27 percent of its required route miles governed, it has not reached interoperability with any of the seven required railroads, but it has submitted its PTC Safety Plan. According to a July PTC update from NJ Transit, four of the railroad’s 12 lines are in the Extended Revenue Service Demonstration (ERSD) phase, an additional four lines will enter ERSD in Q3 and the final four lines will enter ERSD in Q4.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.