NJ Transit at risk of missing Dec. 31 railroad safety system deadline: Feds

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NJ Transit is the only railroad in the country “at risk of not fully implementing” a federally mandated safety system “on all its required main lines” by the end of the year, a federal agency said in a new report.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced its conclusion based on railroads’ self-reported progress as of a Sept. 30 progress report. Congress has mandated railroads fully implement positive train control (PTC) systems by the end of the year.

Nationally, PTC systems were either in operation or revenue service demonstration (RSD) on 99.6% of the 57,537 route miles where the system is required. As of Sep. 30, NJ Transit is operating a PTC system in RSD on about 48% of the 375.9 route miles where PTC is mandated.

For a Nov. 12 board meeting, Parsons, the contractor handling the PTC project for NJ Transit, said it is on track to receive its safety certification by the Dec. 31 deadline.

“NJ Transit continues to work closely with the FRA as we advance our PTC project toward full implementation by December 31,” New Jersey 101.5 quoted NJ Transit spokesman Jim Smith as saying in a statement. “Parsons, our PTC contractor, provided a status update … that illustrated a timeline to full implementation by the end of the year and we intend to hold them fully accountable to meeting that deadline.”

PTC technology aims to increase rail safety and reduce the probability of improper train movements, thereby eliminating crashes. Railroad systems and equipment must be interoperable so that railroads can operate their equipment as a “tenant” over the lines of another railroad – a “host” railroad.

A spokesperson for NJ Transit previously told The Center Square the agency’s schedule has always been for the tenant railroads to test their equipment and systems on NJ Transit territory in the fourth quarter of this year.

NJ Transit plans to spend more than $300 million to implement PTC.

Earlier this year, the FRA identified NJ Transit as one of two railroads at risk of missing the deadline. The FRA also identified New Mexico Rail Runner Express as at risk of missing the deadline but removed the agency from the most recent list.

“Full implementation of PTC is in sight, owing to everyone’s unparalleled cooperation and determination,” FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory said in a news release. “… Once complete, railroads, rail workers, and rail passengers will all benefit from this transformational accomplishment in railroad safety.”





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