Denham PTC Congressional hearings statement

June 24, 2015

For Immediate Release: June 24, 2015
Chairman Jeff Denham (R-CA)
Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials
Hearing on “The State of Positive Train Control in the United States”
June 24, 2015
Opening Statement
(Remarks as Prepared)
Our hearing today will focus on the implementation of Positive Train Control in the United States, one of the most complex and costly safety mandates ever undertaken by the railroad industry.  Positive Train Control, or PTC, is a radio- or GPS-based system designed to automatically control trains to follow speed limits and avoid train-to-train collisions.

Following a deadly commuter train crash in Southern California, Congress mandated the installation of PTC on lines where certain hazardous materials are carried and any line on which passenger or commuter rail services operate.  The recent tragic Amtrak crash in Philadelphia has reminded us that while these accidents are rare, they can happen, and PTC will make our rail network safer.

This mandate was included in the Rail Safety and Improvement Act of 2008, and Congress set an implementation deadline of December 31st, 2015.  From the beginning, the PTC mandate was going to be a daunting undertaking.  Consider that when completely implemented, PTC will require 38,000 wayside interfaces, 18,000 locomotives to be upgraded, and 12,000 signals will need to be replaced.

While similar systems exist in Europe, and on some portions of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, PTC has never been implemented on such a scale, and has never required such a high level of interoperability.  Since the 2008 mandate was enacted, freight, passenger, and commuter railroads have spent the last seven years working to implement PTC.  According to the Association of American Railroads, freight railroads have spent $5.7 billion to-date on PTC, and expect to spend a total of $9 billion for full deployment.  The American Public Transportation Association has estimated that the commuter and passenger railroads will have to spend nearly $3.5 billion on PTC.


Read Chairman Denham’s full statement by clicking here.

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