Federal agencies Rail Transportation

FRA proposes changes to Positive Train Control regulations

Metra train
Photo: BeyondImages/iStockphoto

Washington — The Federal Railroad Administration wants to revise its regulations governing Positive Train Control systems – emergency slowing and stopping systems designed to help prevent train crashes and derailments caused by human error – and reporting on their function.

According to a notice of proposed rulemaking published in the Dec. 18 Federal Register, “recognizing that the railroad industry intends to enhance further FRA-certified PTC systems to continue improving rail safety and PTC technology’s reliability and operability,” the agency is seeking to modify the process by which a host railroad submits an amendment request before making certain changes to its PTC Safety Plan.

Additionally, to ensure more effective oversight, FRA is proposing to:

  • Expand an existing reporting requirement by increasing the frequency from annual to biannual
  • Broaden the reporting requirement to include positive performance-related information, not just failure-related information
  • Require host railroads to use a new, standardized Biannual Report of PTC System Performance (Form FRA F 6180.152)

“Overall, the proposed amendments would benefit the railroad industry, the public, and FRA by reducing unnecessary costs, facilitating innovation, and improving FRA’s ability to oversee PTC system performance and reliability, while not negatively affecting rail safety,” the NPRM states.


The agency mandated that by Dec. 31, FRA-certified and interoperable PTC systems must govern operations on all PTC-mandated main lines, which include about 58,000 route miles nationally, according to the NPRM. Among the 35 host railroads impacted by the mandate, seven are Class I; 23 are intercity passenger or commuter railroads; and five are Class II, Class III, short line or terminal railroads.

Comments on the NPRM are due Feb. 16.

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