No Train Today? Ask Congress Why

October 28, 2015

Note: The House of Representatives this week passed legislation extending the Positive Train Control deadline to the end of 2018, with exceptions beyond that as necessary. The Senate is expected to also pass this bill in time to avoid the types of problems outlined in the article below from the Opinion Pages of the New York Times.

The opinion article below is written by Andrew N. Liveris, the chairman and chief executive of the Dow Chemical Company and Matthew K. Rose, the executive chairman of BNSF Railway. Even though the PTC crisis appears to have been averted, the arguments and information presented in this article make it well worth the short time required to read. – EditorWebsite Insert Our Name Tells Our Story copy

UNTREATED drinking water, empty store shelves, manufacturing plants sitting idle, and a million more cars on the roads because America’s rail network effectively comes to a halt. Sound unbelievable? Unless Congress acts quickly, this will begin to be reality in the United States as soon as January because of a law that many people have never heard of: a mandate that the rail industry install positive train control (P.T.C.) by the end of 2015.

It has been clear that the railroads need additional time to meet the deadline, and the Government Accountability Office acknowledged as much recently. After Dec. 31, railroads will be faced with operating in willful violation of a law. As a result, railroads have concluded that it is not reasonable to operate on these lines after the deadline, which will effectively shut down the freight rail network. At the same time, most passenger rail services in the United States will not operate.

The proposal being considered in Congress is for a three-year extension, to 2018, for getting P.T.C. installed, with potentially limited additional time for testing if approved by the secretary of transportation. The extension also has enforcement language and railroad reporting requirements for progress.

Read the full opinion from the authors in the New York Times by clicking here.


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