GAO Report Cites PTC Interoperability Issues

A Government Accountability Office report concludes that although Amtrak, commuter and freight railroads are making progress in implementing positive train control systems, significant work remains to be done to achieve interoperability among the railroad’ individual PTC systems.

The report said that as of March 31, 11 of the 31 host railroads that must have interoperable PTC systems reported that they had achieved interoperability with at least one of their tenant railroads.

Thirty-eight of the 227 host-tenant relationships that require interoperability have been completed (17 percent), the Federal Railroad Administration told the GAO.

The GAO said most railroads said that vendor and software issues were “major” or “moderate” challenges for PTC implementation.

More than half of the railroads said interoperability was a “major” or “moderate challenge,” and can be complicated by software issues and coordinating host and tenant schedules

As an example of those issues, the report said one railroad reported that certain software functionality still had to be developed, tested and implemented to address reliability issues and facilitate interoperability.

The FRA concurred with a GAO recommendation that the FRA take steps to communicate information to railroads and use a risk-based approach to ranks priorities of agency resources and workload.

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