DOT Announces Historic New Safety Standards for Freight and Passenger Trains – Positive Train Control Systems

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on January 12, 2010

Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Department of Transportation (DOT), Final Rule, January 12, 2010: “FRA is issuing regulations implementing a requirement of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 that defines criteria for certain passenger and freight rail lines requiring the implementation of positive train control (PTC) systems. This final rule includes required functionalities of PTC system technology and the means by which PTC systems will be certified. This final rule also describes the contents of the PTC implementation plans required by the statute and contains the process for submission of those plans for review and approval by FRA. These regulations could also be voluntarily complied with by entities not mandated to install PTC systems.”

  • Positive Train Control (PTC) refers to technology that is capable of preventing train-to-train collisions, overspeed derailments, and casualties or injuries to roadway workers (e.g., maintenance-of-way workers, bridge workers, signal maintainers) operating within their limits of authority as a result of unauthorized incursion by a train. PTC is also capable of preventing train movements through a switch left in the wrong position. PTC systems vary widely in complexity and sophistication based on the level of automation and functionality they implement, the system architecture utilized, the wayside system upon which they are based (i.e., non-signaled, block signal, cab signal, etc.), and the degree of train control they are capable of assuming.”
  • Related – NTSB Issues Urgent Safety Recommendations in Aftermath of DC Metro Fatal Crash, July 15, 2009
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