APTA Head Says Some Commuter Railroads Won’t Make the PTC Deadline Later This Year

The president of the American Public Transportation Association said this week that some commuter railroads are going have a difficult time meeting a federally-mandated Dec. 31 deadline to install positive train control.

“[Transit] agencies are working at their best to advance and meet this deadline,” said Paul Skoutelas. “It is clear that some are going to struggle with it. I think we’re going to see a good number meet the deadline, others that are going to be behind.”

Skoutelas spoke at a news conference during APTA’s 2018 legislative conference, which was attended by more than 500 transit officials.

He said Congress and the public need to understand the complexity involved with making PTC work, which includes working with what work host freight railroads have completed and assuring interoperability with freight lines and Amtrak.

“All of these agencies have had to rearrange their capital budgets to free up money for positive train control,” Skoutelas said adding that money being spent on PTC could have been used for such things as bridge replacement and track rehabilitation.

“It’s a lot to do in a short period of time,” said David Genova, general manager of Denver’s Regional Transit District. “There aren’t very many designers and manufacturers of these systems. The capacity to get all of this work done in a short period of time is incredibly challenging.”

Federal Railroad Administration data showed that as of last Sept. 30 PTC  preparedness among commuter systems ranged from nearly 100 percent to zero.

This week the Department of Transportation said that a more recent report shows that commuter railroads have progressed little in the past three months.

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