GAO to Congress: Extend deadline for Positive Train Control

train approaching

Photo: ElsvanderGun/iStockphoto

Washington – Congress should grant the Federal Railroad Administration the authority to extend the Dec. 31 deadline for implementing Positive Train Control technology, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.

GAO included the recommendation within a 51-page report on the progress of PTC implementation across the railroad industry. In the report, more than two-thirds of railroads that were surveyed (20 out of 29) said they would not be able to fully implement PTC – an integrated system for controlling train movements, including emergency braking – until one to five years after the mandated deadline.

Railroads have indicated for many months that the deadline might be unattainable because of high costs and technological glitches, among other factors. GAO’s report placed the bulk of the blame on FRA, describing the agency’s PTC oversight efforts as “not sufficient to monitor and report on the progress of individual railroads.”

The question of whether to push back the PTC deadline has been debated in Congress throughout the year. As of press time, the deadline remains firm.

“This GAO report 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,” Sen. Bill Shuster (R-PA) said in a press release.