FRA updates positive train control readiness

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today released a quarterly status update on railroads’ self-reported progress, as of December 31, 2019, toward fully implementing positive train control (PTC) systems as required by Congress. Based on Fourth Quarter 2019 PTC Progress Reports from the 42 railroads statutorily required to implement the technology, most are operating their systems in revenue service, or in advanced field testing, known as revenue service demonstration (RSD).

“The vast majority of railroads mandated to deploy and operate interoperable PTC systems have shown significant progress,” said FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory. “I applaud freight and passenger railroads for their direct and sustained engagement with one another, vendors, suppliers, and FRA. I strongly urge those railroads that haven’t yet commenced RSD, conducted interoperability testing, or submitted PTC Safety Plans to intensify their efforts and take advantage of FRA’s technical assistance.”

As of December 31, 2019, PTC systems were in RSD or in operation on 55,601 route miles — 96.3% of the nearly 58,000 route miles subject to the mandate. Specifically, at the end of 2019, PTC systems were governing operations on nearly all the Class I railroads’ and Amtrak’s mandated main lines, 98.7% and 99.8% respectively. While several commuter railroads’ PTC systems are in RSD on their entire mandated networks, significant work remains as only 54.7% of commuter railroads’ cumulative required route miles were PTC-governed as of December 31, 2019, versus 41.9% last quarter. In addition, interoperability has reportedly been achieved in 38% of the 229 applicable host-tenant railroad relationships as of December 31, 2019, a 13% increase since Quarter 3 of 2019.

Recognizing that only 10 months remain until the full implementation deadline set forth by Congress, FRA continues to direct additional resources to railroads at risk of not implementing fully an FRA-certified and interoperable PTC system on their required main lines by December 31, 2020. To evaluate the risk of noncompliance, FRA is primarily considering the following factors, which are associated with the requirements for full implementation of a PTC system: (1) the percentage of mandated route miles currently governed by a PTC system, including RSD; (2) any unresolved technical issue in implementing a compliant PTC system; (3) the percentage of a host railroad’s tenant railroads that have achieved interoperability, as required; and (4) a host railroad’s expected date to submit its PTC Safety Plan to FRA, as required to obtain PTC System Certification.

Based on these factors and railroads’ self-reported progress as of December 31, 2019, FRA currently considers the following 8 host railroads at risk of not fully implementing a PTC system on all required main lines by December 31, 2020: Alaska Railroad, The Belt Railway Company of Chicago, Florida East Coast Railway (including its tenant railroad, Brightline / Virgin Trains USA), Kansas City Terminal Railway, New Jersey Transit, New Mexico Rail Runner Express, Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corp. (Metra), and TEXRail.

FRA remains committed to assisting railroads directly, and to the greatest extent possible, including ongoing support during all phases of field testing and RSD operations. In addition, FRA is encouraging state departments of transportation and governors to help ensure that any at-risk commuter railroads have sufficient technical resources and support to meet the end-of-year deadline.

To view detailed infographics depicting railroads’ progress toward fully implementing PTC systems as of December 31, 2019, please visit To view the public version of each railroad’s Quarterly PTC Progress Report (Form FRA F 6180.165, OMB Control No. 2130-0553) for Quarter 4 of 2019, please visit

— From a Federal Railroad Administration news release. Feb. 27, 2020.

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