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US Class I railroads are almost fully interoperable

New Jersey Transit is the one railroad at risk for noncompliance, FRA says

The U.S. operations of the Class I railroads are nearly compliant with the federal positive train control mandate. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

The U.S. operations of the Class I railroads are nearly fully interoperable, with 91.6% of the network reaching interoperability by the end of the third quarter, according to data from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). 

At the end of the second quarter, U.S. Class I rail operations were 79% interoperable. 

Interoperability is the final step toward becoming fully compliant with the federal positive train control (PTC) mandate. By Dec. 31, the U.S. operations of the Class I railroads, Amtrak and selected commuter and regional railroad lines must have PTC fully implemented and running on their networks.

Interoperability occurs when the controlling locomotives and/or cab cars of any host railroad and tenant railroad operating on the same PTC-equipped main line are able to communicate with and respond to the PTC system, even when trains are moving over property boundaries. The final step is interoperability with other trains, which is viewed as the last piece in fulfilling the statutory mandate.

For additional information on the Class I railroads’ compliance with the PTC mandate, go here.

Meanwhile, among the 219 host-tenant relationships representing all the freight and passenger railroads that must comply with the PTC mandate, 84% is interoperable. This is up by 18.6% from the second quarter, FRA said.

FRA also said that PTC systems are governing the rail operations on 99.6% of all 57,537 PTC-mandated route miles. These route miles either have PTC in operation or they are in revenue service demonstration, which is an advanced testing stage.

“Full implementation of PTC is in sight, owing to everyone’s unparalleled cooperation and determination,” said FRA Administrator Ron Batory. “I’m incredibly proud of the intensive collaborations we have forged. Once complete, railroads, rail workers and rail passengers will all benefit from this transformational accomplishment in railroad safety.”

The one railroad at risk for noncompliance is New Jersey Transit, which is operating a PTC system in the advanced testing stage on approximately 48% of its 375.9 PTC-mandated route miles. FRA said it has been sending additional resources and technical assistance to the rail line.

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Joanna Marsh

Joanna is a Washington, DC-based writer covering the freight railroad industry. She has worked for Argus Media as a contributing reporter for Argus Rail Business and as a market reporter for Argus Coal Daily.