November 18, 2016
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APTA: Commuter Rail on Schedule to Meet Congressional PTC Deadline

The U.S. commuter rail industry is making significant progress on implementing PTC and is on schedule to meet congressional deadlines, according to updated analyses released by APTA.

“The commuter rail industry has made great strides in implementing positive train control (PTC),” said APTA Acting President and CEO Richard A. White. “This progress on this complex safety technology demonstrates our ongoing commitment to our number one priority of safety.”

Among APTA’s findings, 22 percent of 3,150 route miles are either in service or in full PTC demonstration awaiting FRA approvals, 27 percent of 3,400 locomotives and cab cars are installed with PTC hardware, 40 percent of 35 back office control systems are ready for operation, 70 percent of spectrum has been acquired and 50 percent of 1,000 radio towers have been erected, 22 percent of 13,000 employees have been trained in PTC and 19 percent of commuter rail agencies are expected to be 100 percent PTC equipped by the end of 2016.

APTA based its analyses on surveying its members and assessing the quarterly reports submitted to FRA. The report showed that, given the priority of PTC, there remains significant investment backlog for State of Good Repair (SOGR) and expansion projects, including upgrades and replacement to track, bridges, rolling stock and facilities.

PTC implementation is expected to cost the commuter rail industry more than $3.5 billion in capital expenditure, which includes more than $16 million in spectrum acquisition, as well as $100 million annually in additional maintenance costs. As of October 2016, spending by the commuter railroads is estimated to be more than $1.5 billion.

Funding remains a critical concern for the commuter rail agencies, all of which are publicly funded, according to APTA. Currently, $75 million in federal grants designated specifically for PTC implementation have been awarded to commuter rail agencies; an additional $199 million was authorized by Congress but has yet to be appropriated. Finally, a $967 million loan from DOT was made available to one commuter rail agency for PTC implementation.
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