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Letter: Freight rail industry trying to get PTC installed quickly

Freight rail industry trying to get PTC installed quickly

In response to the Jan. 7 News editorial, “Delay in installation of speed controls leaves railroads vulnerable to accidents,” readers need to know America’s freight railroads are fully committed to implementing Positive Train Control, investing $6 billion thus far to develop, install and test this complex system.

PTC is not off-the-shelf technology and rail operators have developed much of it from scratch. The law passed by Congress recognizes how comprehensive and challenging PTC is and that time is needed for real-world testing and validation to ensure this technology is fully operational and working as it should.

Safety is embedded in all aspects of train operations, with railroads taking actions to further advance the safety of the nation’s 140,000-mile network, including increased track inspections and trackside monitoring technology; enhanced coordination and training with local first responders; and massive investments to rail infrastructure and equipment. PTC technology will be overlay systems, meaning they will supplement existing train safety checks and balances.

Federal statistics show rail safety has been dramatically improving over the last several decades. Said Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx when speaking about crude oil shipments, “The truth is that 99.99 percent of these shipments reach their destination safely.”

The freight rail industry’s focus is to continue working with federal regulators to get PTC installed and implemented as quickly as possible, because we both share the same commitment to making our nation’s rail system even safer.

Patricia M. Reilly

Senior Vice President

Association of American Railroads