Top Democrats Introduce Legislation to Speed Up PTC Implementation, Prevent Further PTC Extensions
Washington, D.C. -- Today, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Michael Capuano (D-MA) introduced legislation that would speed up the implementation of life-saving positive train control (PTC) technology that could prevent catastrophic human-caused rail accidents. The legislation, the Positive Train Control Implementation and Financing Act (H.R. 4766), comes in response to the December 18, 2017 crash of Amtrak Train 501 in Washington, which killed three passengers. Last week, the National Transportation Safety Board reported that the accident was PTC preventable.
“Since Congress first passed legislation to mandate PTC implementation in 2008, some railroads have been diligent in implementing PTC while others have clearly been dragging their feet. Two years ago, Congress granted them more time, pushing the PTC implementation deadline to December 31, 2018. As we approach that deadline, many of the railroads do not appear to be on track to meet the PTC mandate. Enough. No more delays, no more extensions, no more excuses from railroads who have had ten years to implement PTC technology. This legislation requires that PTC be installed by the end of the year, prevents future extensions of this life-saving technology, and provides critical grants for cash-strapped commuter and intercity passenger railroads to implement PTC,” said DeFazio.
“Positive Train Control will significantly improve passenger safety and full implementation must be made a priority. This legislation will ensure that PTC is done as quickly as possible and makes resources available to help certain railroads meet this obligation,” said Capuano.
Members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Representatives Rick Larsen (D-WA) and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), and the entire Washington State Democratic delegation including Representatives Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Denny Heck (D-WA), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), and Adam Smith (D-WA), have cosponsored the legislation.
The legislation would mandate that December 31, 2018, is the final deadline for implementing PTC and prohibit the U.S. Department of Transportation from granting railroads further extensions of the PTC deadline. To help passenger railroads meet the deadline, the bill includes just over $2.5 billion in grants for intercity and commuter passenger railroads to implement PTC. In response to the recent Amtrak crash in Washington, the legislation would prohibit commuter and intercity passenger railroads from beginning new service on a route unless PTC is fully implemented and operational. It also requires that Amtrak report its progress toward installing PTC on routes that are not owned by Amtrak, but are operated by the railroad, such as the Amtrak Cascades line