PTC agreement ‘very close’

October 16, 2015

Agreement on automated train extension ‘very close’

Lawmakers in the House and Senate are “very close” to reaching an agreement on extension of a federal deadline for automating trains on most of the nation’s railways, aides in the lower chamber say.Website Insert Passenger Trains Very Well copy

Rail companies currently have until Dec. 31 to install an automated train navigation system known as Positive Train Control (PTC), which regulates the speed and track movements of trains.


Several railroad service providers, including Amtrak, are pressuring Congress to move the deadline by threatening to at least partially shut down passenger and freight service in January if the automated train deadline is not extended.

Aides in the House said Friday the chambers are nearing a bicameral agreement on such an extension amid the mounting pressure from railroads.

“Our approaches were a little different, and what we’ve done is actually sit down with them over the last couple of weeks to see if there’s a compromise position once again on a bipartisan basis with the Senate that we could work out,” a GOP aide said, noting that the Senate has already passed an extension of the automated train mandate that would last until 2018 in an earlier highway bill.

“We think we’re very close on that. If we get to that point in the next day or so, when we introduce this [highway] bill next week, our hope is to have that Positive Train Control provision in it,” the aide continued.

The December deadline for automated trains was set under a law passed in the aftermath of a 2008 commuter rail crash in California.

Lawmakers have moved to extend the deadline at the behest of freight and commuter rail companies, but the effort stalled after a deadly Philadelphia Amtrak crash in May that killed eight passengers.

A highway funding bill that was passed by the Senate in July would change the mandate for railroad companies to implement the automated train system by year’s end to a requirement that they submit plans by that date for installing the technology in the near future.

Keith Laing of The Hill has the full story by clicking here.


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