• ITVI.USA
    15,360.600
    75.400
    0.5%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.768
    -0.011
    -0.4%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.410
    -0.010
    0%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,331.810
    75.820
    0.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.590
    0.150
    10.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.080
    0.130
    3.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.170
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.140
    0.190
    6.4%
  • WAIT.USA
    125.000
    -1.000
    -0.8%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,360.600
    75.400
    0.5%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.768
    -0.011
    -0.4%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.410
    -0.010
    0%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,331.810
    75.820
    0.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.590
    0.150
    10.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.080
    0.130
    3.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.170
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.140
    0.190
    6.4%
  • WAIT.USA
    125.000
    -1.000
    -0.8%
American ShipperShippingTrade and Compliance

Standalone legislation may be needed to extend PTC deadline

Without an extension past the original Dec. 31, 2015 deadline for implementation of Positive Train Control, shippers say the resulting “large-scale service disruption would be dire.”

   Congress may need to pass separate legislation to extend a Dec. 31, 2015 deadline requiring railroads to install positive train control equipment aimed at preventing collisions to avoid a massive shutdown of the nation’s rail system, according to the Senate Commerce, Science & Technology.
   On July 30, the Senate approved the DRIVE Act a six-year surface transportation bill that included a PTC extension provision (Section 35442) by a vote of 65-34.
   But a press release issued Thursday by the Senate Commerce Committee said, “Congress may have to pass the PTC extension in the DRIVE Act as a stand-alone bill.”
   The release included statements from seven Class I freight railroads, the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, 21 passenger railroads (or groups representing them), half a dozen shippers groups, and others arguing for the need for an extension.
   “American farmers, manufacturers, energy providers, retailers and other freight rail customers are increasingly concerned that large segments of the U.S. rail system will shut down if Congress does not soon move to extend the December 31st implementation deadline for Positive Train Control (PTC). The safety, public health and economic consequences of such a large-scale service disruption would be dire,” said a letter signed by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, American Chemistry Council, American Farm Bureau Federation,
National Association of Manufacturers, National Retail Federation, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
   “We urge the Department of Transportation (DOT) to support a reasonable extension well ahead of the upcoming deadline and encourage you to bring every resource at your disposal to help resolve this pending crisis as quickly as possible.”
   John Thune, R-S.D., chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee said the provision in the DRIVE Act was bipartisan and “a rigorous and demanding case-by-case approach, with enforceable milestones and metrics.”
   He said the Secretary of Transportation would approve or disapprove the dates in a railroad’s updated implementation schedule, including the hard end date for implementation.
   “Under no circumstances could the Secretary approve a date for full installation and activation that is later than 2018,” said Thune, though some railroads have said they cannot complete work until 2020. He also said the DOT Secretary would have the authority to “identify and require changes to deficient schedules that do not show safe and successful implementation as soon as practicable.”
   The Committee also said the proposal was specifically designed to maintain the need for railroads to install and activate PTC systems as soon a safely possible while recognizing that review by regulators after installation, which is necessary to achieve legal certification of full PTC implementation, will take additional time.
   A report requested by Thune and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., that was issued last week by the Government Accountability Office, “confirms that the PTC mandate is not achievable, and extending the deadline is essential to preventing significant disruptions of both passenger and freight rail service across the country,” said Shuster. “I am committed to working with Senator Thune and our colleagues to address the clear need for an extension, and to ensuring that railroads implement this important but complicated safety technology in a responsible manner.”

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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