It was most likely if and not when an extension to the Positive Train Control (PTC) deadline would be signed into law. Yet on 7th October the White House responded to Amtrak's claim that it might suspend some passenger services if a delay wasn't enacted with a reiteration of the deadline: “Congress enacted this law, including the December 31, 2015, deadline, and we believe it is important that the Department of Transportation enforce the law that Congress passed.” However, just a few short weeks later on October 29th, following extensive pressure from railroads and those relying on the freight they move President Obama signed into law H.R.3819 - Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2015. This act revises the previous requirements for implementation of PTC by 3 years, from December 31, 2015, to December 31, 2018. The extension is secured, though the question of funding, one of the principle barriers to PTC’s installation is still to be resolved. So what has he industry make of the PTC deadline extension announcement?
"Norfolk Southern appreciates the consideration and study afforded the PTC issue by Congress, the President, and all parties who support safe and reliable rail service….Following this commendable step by Congress and the President, Norfolk Southern has rescinded its cessation of service notice for Poisonous-Inhalation-Hazard commodities, and for passenger and commuter trains. The government's action makes it possible for Norfolk Southern to conduct lawful operations beyond the former deadline of Dec. 31, 2015, maintaining full access to the rail network for customers and passengers...”
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
“I regret that this detrimental delay in PTC was included in the three-week extension of the Highway Trust Fund. This measure is a lose-lose, an avoidable and abysmal delay in life-saving technology for our railroads and an inadequate extension of highway and road funding. I will fight for aggressive implementation of the new deadlines for PTC to help save the costs in dollars and lives that may result from continuing collisions, derailments, and other preventable catastrophes. One expert noted that ‘PTC is the most important rail safety advancement of our time’ – and the U.S. Senate today chose to delay it by five years.”
Edward R. Hamberger, Association of American Railroads (AAR) President and CEO,
"Members of the House and Senate are to be commended for taking the responsible action to extend the PTC deadline. This provides the certainty American industries and businesses need to serve the millions of Americans who rely on rail every day," said Hamberger. "The extension means freight and passenger railroads can continue moving forward with the ongoing development, installation, real-world testing and validation of this complex technology. The rail industry remains fully committed to being accountable and transparent in completing PTC and we look forward to working with Congress to get a broader long-term surface transportation bill to the desk of the President expeditiously."Eric R. Byer, The National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD) President
"Our national railroad system is crucial not only for the movement of people, but also for the movement of goods vital to the American economy. We applaud the Congress' efforts to pass a PTC extension and ensure the continued shipment of products critical to life in the 21st century. We now urge President Obama to quickly sign the legislation into law extending PTC so railroads and industries that rely on them can continue delivering goods to their customers."
SmartRail World has regularly featured the progress of Positive Train Control throughout the path towards the original deadline and will continue to do so for the next three years (at least...). For more on PTC implementation and the various arguments around it see below:
SafeRail (incorporating the 6th annual PTC World Congress) is the latest evolution to our rail safety series. The show is a holistic safety and security event for operators wanting to effect a business wide culture of rail safety and for industry suppliers which have the products and services to enable operators with implementation. For more visit; www.saferailcongress.com