Union Pacific Railroad: No PTC deadline extension, no passenger trains on UP tracks after December 31, 2015

September 9, 2015

An announcement from Union Pacific Railroad Company to its customers, posted on the Union Pacific website September 9, 2015:

 

Positive Train Control Update

 

Announcement Number: CN2015-59
Categories: General Announcements
Posted Date: September 9, 2015

To Our Customers:
In 2008, Congress passed a law requiring railroads to install Positive Train Control (PTC) on lines that carry passengers or toxic by inhalation gas (TIH). The deadline for complete installation is December 31, 2015. Union Pacific is implementing PTC, and since the mandate in 2008, we have worked tirelessly to design, install and test the system. However, despite our best efforts, we will not meet the installation deadline.
Union Pacific is committed to implementing PTC as safely and as rapidly as possible. We have dedicated tremendous resources to developing and installing this complex technology. We have about 1,000 people working on PTC, and we have invested $1.8 billion through mid-2015 and plan to invest another $200 million before the end of this year.
PTC is not an off-the-shelf technology. After the mandate passed in 2008, we (and other railroads) had to first design and perform preliminary tests on the system. Rigorous testing remains to be done to ensure the PTC components will operate reliably and will not disrupt rail service by stopping trains unnecessarily. As you would expect with any new and complex technology, we experienced a variety of regulatory and supplier delays. These issues will prevent us from complying with the December 31, 2015, deadline established by Congress. In fact, all freight railroads and nearly every passenger railroad will not meet the deadline.Website Insert Fleet for Sale or Lease copy
We have communicated frequently with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), members of Congress and other government officials about the need for an extension of the 2015 deadline. We appreciate that many of you have also communicated with elected officials on this important issue and have conveyed the need for a realistic deadline. While we are still hopeful that Congress will pass, and the President will sign, a bill that extends the PTC implementation deadline, we also recognize that our customers need to prepare in case a decision to extend the deadline is not made soon.
We have been considering how Union Pacific can best meet the goals of safety, compliance with applicable regulations, and our responsibilities to our customers. We have come to the reluctant conclusion that, without a timely extension, Union Pacific must embargo TIH shipments. We anticipate issuing an embargo notice before Thanksgiving. We will provide advance notice of when Union Pacific will actually issue its embargo if there is no extension. In addition, all passenger operations on Union Pacific lines will be discontinued by year’s end. While the embargo will be limited to TIH at this time, we may need to consider expanding the scope if the FRA imposes fines on freight trains without TIH, which it is authorized to do.
Union Pacific will continue to work actively with Congress to obtain an extension. We encourage you to reach out to your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators urging them to support a PTC deadline extension. Additionally, you can ask your trade associations and industry groups to contact Congress as well.
As always, thank you for your business and support of Union Pacific.

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