The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) this week announced a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for at least $46 million for positive train control (PTC) systems grants.
This NOFO represents the balance of the $250 million PTC Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program that remained after selections were announced in August.
Projects eligible for funding include back-office systems, communications and onboard hardware equipment, equipment installation, testing and training for the implementation, and interoperability.
The funding opportunity was announced a day before Robert Sumwalt, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chairman, expressed concerns to Congress that a significant portion of the country’s railroads, primarily passenger operators, will not meet a Dec. 31 deadline for implementing the PTC technology. NTSB “urges swift implementation of the congressional PTC mandate,” Sumwalt told members of the Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee. “For each day that goes by without PTC, we are at continued risk for another tragic accident.”
In 2015, Congress set the deadline for major freight and commuter rail systems to have fully operational PTC systems by Dec. 31, 2018. However, railroads that demonstrate benchmarks in the implementation may qualify for extensions up to the end of 2020. To be approved for a deadline extension, a railroad would need to demonstrate to the FRA that it has met certain statutory criteria.
FRA administrator Ronald L. Batory emphasized that any railroad that had installed less than 90% of its PTC hardware as of June 30 is deemed “at risk” of failing to qualify for a deadline extension. Nine railroads have been determined to be “at risk” by the FRA.
Source: FRA / Transport Topics