FRA certifies Trinity Metro TEXRail PTC system

Dec. 29, 2020
The commuter railroad credits its small yet focused team for achieving the milestone.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has certified the Positive Train Control (PTC) system of Trinity Metro TEXRail, which was required prior to the Dec. 31, 2020, deadline to have the technology fully implemented.  

“This is a tremendous accomplishment,” said Trinity Metro President and CEO Bob Baulsir. “FRA has very high standards and we are pleased to have achieved certification for this safety enhancement.”

Trinity Metro is the fourth commuter railroad to release news that it attained certification of its PTC system prior to the end of year deadline following New Jersey Transit, Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road.

TEXRail was one of a handful of railroads FRA labeled “at risk” of being in non-compliance with safety technology by the Dec. 31 deadline as part of the administration’s quarterly PTC reports. FRA began the “at risk” list in its Quarter 4 2019 report and TEXRail was moved off the list by the Second Quarter 2020 report.

In a June 2020 feature article on PTC, Reed Lanham, deputy chief operating officer for rail at Trinity Metro, told Mass Transit the railroad had experienced many challenges at some point during the installation and implementation process, including vendor availability, software issues and workforce issues. However, he credited constant and honest communication with keeping the project on schedule.

“We worked diligently to make sure we met all of the milestones, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. We had a small team focused on this effort, so it was possible to maintain a consistent working relationship and keep moving forward,” said Lanham.

Trinity Metro notes the primary steps achieved this year for PTC include conducting extensive testing, submitting a safety plan to FRA and achieving interoperability between host and tenant railroads. Trinity Metro needed to have PTC operational on more than 25 miles of TEXRail track and the system was required to be interoperable with two separate railroads.

Trinity Metro says the FRA granted conditional approval last week to its safety plan and conditional certification of interoperability. Based on FRA standards, conditional certification meets the statutory certification requirement.

Jon-Erik “AJ” Arjanen, vice president and chief operating officer for rail, praised the teamwork displayed throughout the PTC process.

“I am extremely proud of Reed Lanham and his team for the resiliency and passion for excellence that they displayed to ensure that our rail system is world-class in safety,” said Arjanen.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction 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.