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  • OTLT.USA
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    0.040
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  • OTVI.USA
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  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
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  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
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  • ITVI.USA
    15,466.420
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  • OTLT.USA
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  • OTRI.USA
    20.530
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  • OTVI.USA
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  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
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  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
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    6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
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  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
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  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
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American ShipperShippingTrade and Compliance

House committee leaders introduce legislation to extend Positive Train Control deadline

Under the new bill, introduced by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leaders on Wednesday, the deadline for PTC compliance would be extended from the end of this year until end of 2018 and perhaps beyond.

   House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leaders on Wednesday introduced bipartisan legislation to extend the deadline for U.S. railroads to implement Positive Train Control (PTC) technology to 2018, and perhaps beyond that date for some railroads.
   Congress previously mandated that freight railroad lines carrying certain toxic materials, passenger railroads, and commuter railroads implement Positive Train Control technology by December 31, 2015.
   The Government Accountability Office said in a study released last month that most railroads will not meet the deadline and some even said they would need until 2020 to fully implement PTC.
   “Completion of the Positive Train Control mandate by the end of the year is not achievable, and extending the deadline is essential to preventing significant disruptions of both passenger and freight rail service across the country,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., one of the sponsors of the Positive Train Control Enforcement and Implementation Act of 2015 (H.R. 3651). “Railroads must implement this important but complicated safety technology in a responsible manner, and we need to give them the necessary time to do so.”
   “This extension will ensure our nation’s railroads can continue to function and hold them accountable to implement necessary safety measures on a public timeline,” said Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Denham, R-Calif., another of the bill’s sponsors. “Passenger and freight railroads have stated they can’t meet the current deadline and will shut down later this year. This includes ACE in my district. We must protect communities across the country from a railroad shutdown, which would damage local economies nationwide.”
   The legislators said without an extension, freight railroads will be forced to suspend shipments of certain chemicals, including some used in treating drinking water and in fertilizers; commuter railroads will need to cease operations, significantly impacting commutes in major metropolitan regions; and all Amtrak service outside of portions of the Northeast Corridor will be suspended.
   The Federal Railroad Administration and GAO both recommended extending the Positive Train Control deadline.
   The Positive Train Control Enforcement and Implementation Act of 2015 would extend the deadline to fully implement the technology to the end of 2018. In addition, the bill would provide limited authority for the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary to extend the deadline beyond 2018 if railroads demonstrate they are facing continued difficulties in completing the mandate, but have made every effort to install PTC as soon as possible. It also requires railroads to complete progress reports on implementation.
   The American Chemistry Council issued an analysis today that it said showed how just about every American would be negatively impacted by a PTC-related shutdown of rail service.
   “According to our analysis, broad rail service disruptions lasting only one month will result in a 2.6 percentage reduction to U.S. real GDP growth during 1st quarter 2016, which would pull $30 billion dollars out of the economy,” the council said.

Chris Dupin

Chris Dupin has written about trade and transportation and other business subjects for a variety of publications before joining American Shipper and Freightwaves.

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