/ News / APTA’s PTC Congressional Testimony: We are Making Solid Progress so that Public Transit is Even Safer

APTA’s PTC Congressional Testimony: We are Making Solid Progress so that Public Transit is Even Safer

Parul Dubey on September 17, 2018 - in News, People

Washington, D.C. – Today, on behalf of the American Public Transportation Committee, Jeffrey D. Knueppel, P.E. General Manager of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) testified before the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  The hearing focused on the industry progress in implementing positive train control (PTC). PTC is “system designed to prevent train-to-train collisions, over speed derailments, incursions into established work zone limits, and the movement of a train through a switch left in the wrong position,” according to the statute.


As Mr. Knueppel noted today, “Safety is not simply a value we share; it is a core operating principle and a promise to our riders.” For that reason, the entire commuter rail industry is committed to the full implementation of PTC as soon as possible.


The following are key excerpts from Mr. Knueppel’s testimony. You can read his full written testimony here.


On safety:


“As a result of this overriding and sustained commitment to safety, today, public transit is the safest form of surface transportation. Every year, 30 commuter railroads across America safely carry passengers on more than 500 million trips. And traveling by commuter and intercity passenger rail is 18 times safer than traveling by car.”


PTC innovation to meet challenges:


“Implementing PTC requires changes to four main system components—vehicles, communications, signals, and the back office/control center—and each has to be fully functioning and integrated with the other systems.


… “PTC is a predictive enforcement system of subsystems overlaid on existing systems. Although commuter railroads are currently in the process of installing these systems, a one-size-fits-all approach to implementation does not exist. Each commuter railroad has its own unique and complex operating environment and PTC systems must be tailored to meet those specific operating requirements.”


The industry has made solid progress:


“The nation’s commuter railroads have been working continuously with our freight partners, third-party contractors, Amtrak, and the FRA to address financial, technological and logistical challenges as the industry works toward a common goal – implementing positive train control and making an already safe system even safer.


…“The commuter rail industry continues to make substantial progress in implementing PTC according to updated analyses conducted by APTA, and as of June 30, 2018: 

  • 91% of spectrum has been acquired;
  • 85% of 13,698 pieces of onboard equipment have been installed on locomotives, cab cars, etc.;
  • 79% of 14,083 wayside (on-track equipment) installations have been completed;  
  • 78% of back office control systems are ready for operation;
  • 74% of 14,847 employees have been trained in PTC; and
  • 34% of commuter railroads are in testing or revenue service demonstration; or service is fully operational.

An additional challenge, cost:


“PTC will cost commuter rail operators approximately $4.1 billion to implement, and an estimated additional $80 million to $130 million each year to operate and maintain. For publicly-funded agencies that rely on federal, state, and local funding, as well as passenger fares to operate their service, these costs are staggering.”


Concluding thoughts:


“Safety is the shared responsibility of every commuter railroad in the country, and the current nationwide effort to implement positive train control is a critical initiative that reflects the industry’s commitment to strengthening safety. The nation’s commuter railroads are aggressively working to implement PTC by the statutory deadlines, and right now, thousands of workers across the country are working diligently trackside or in back offices to make that happen.”


Lastly, please visit APTA’s dedicated website to learn more about PTC. We also attached a PTC fact sheet for your convenience.


Comments are disabled