Metrolink is one of four railroads in the country that reported full implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) in advance of the federal deadline of Dec. 31, 2018.
Metrolink’s 538-route mile network achieved Federal Railroad Administration-certified interoperability after North County Transit District’s (NCTD) PTC system was also fully implemented by the federally-mandated deadline. Metrolink had already completed interoperability with operating partners BNSF Railway, Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) and Amtrak.
“Metrolink’s success leading the nation in PTC deployment exemplifies the agency’s commitment to safety,” said Metrolink Board Chair Brian Humphrey. “The Metrolink Board of Directors is indebted to visionary elected leaders at the state and federal levels who supported us in achieving this major milestone.”
In addition to Metrolink and NCTD, the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) and Portland & Western Railroad also reported fully interoperable PTC systems.
“I am proud of the hard work that Metrolink’s PTC team and our partners put in to achieve this goal,” said Metrolink CEO Stephanie Wiggins. “Thanks to the steadfast commitment of Metrolink Board members and staff, Metrolink leads the nation with life-saving PTC technology to ensure we operate the safest system in the nation.”
In October 2015, the Positive Train Control Enforcement and Implementation Act of 2015 (PTCEI Act) was signed into law and extended the original statutory deadline for full implementation of PTC systems from December 31, 2015, to December 31, 2018.
Under the PTCEI Act, each railroad under the congressional mandate must have fully implemented an FRA-certified and interoperable PTC system on all required main lines by December 31, 2018, unless a railroad qualified for and obtained FRA’s approval of an alternative schedule.
In June 2015, Metrolink became the first passenger railroad in the nation to have PTC running during regular service on all its hosted lines.
PTC combines GPS, wireless radio and computing technology to send up-to-date visual and audible information and notify train crew members when a train must be slowed or stopped. If an engineer does not respond to the PTC warning system, onboard computers will activate the brakes and safely stop the train. PTC can stop a train to prevent incidents caused by speeding and when trains are operating through red signals or on the wrong tracks.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has consistently included PTC in its lists of most wanted safety technologies for more than 40 years. According to the NTSB, PTC is one of the greatest rail safety innovations during the last 200 years.
The FRA announced last month that it would award $46 million in grant funding for 11 projects in 10 states to assist with deploying PTC systems. This marks the second selection of PTC systems deployment projects under the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act and via the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program, collectively totaling $250 million in funding.
Metrolink will receive up to $3.1 million for a project that supports the implementation of Higher Reliability and Capacity Train Control (HRCTC). The HRCTC will leverage PTC to increase capacity, reduce headways and/or corridor infrastructure upgrades along Metrolink’s Orange County and Inland Empire-Orange County lines.
“These grants not only help railroads continue to make progress implementing positive train control, but they also show that we’re steadfast in our commitment to make investments in passenger rail and rural communities,” said FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory in a U.S. Department of Transportation release.