FRA certifies NJ Transit’s Positive Train Control system

(The Center Square) – The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has certified NJ Transit’s Positive Train Control (PTC) system about a month after the agency expressed concerns about whether the commuter railroad would meet the end of year deadline.

The certification “improves safety for our customers by using technology to reduce the risk of human error,” Transportation Commissioner and NJ Transit Chair Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti said in a news release. “It took an amazing effort by our dedicated staff to complete this system on time, and I want to thank everyone who worked so diligently to get this done.”

Last month, the FRA identified NJ Transit as the only railroad in the country “at risk of not fully implementing” the federally mandated safety system “on all its required main lines” by the end of the year.

“To have gone from the worst percentage in the nation to full compliance in less than three years while still running the railroad is a great achievement and harbinger for continued improvements to service,” Assemblyman John McKeon, D-Essex, said in a news release.

PTC technology, required by legislation Congress passed in 2008, aims to increase rail safety by reducing improper train movements and 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.

Five tenant railroads operate over NJ Transit tracks, and NJ Transit operates 12 commuter rail lines. The PTC system complements an existing cab signaling system and Automatic Train Control (ATC) technology already used by NJ Transit.

A spokesperson for NJ Transit previously told The Center Square the agency planned for tenant railroads to test their equipment and systems on NJ Transit tracks during the fourth quarter.

NJ Transit said it planned to spend more than $300 million to implement PTC, including installing “wayside equipment” along 326 miles of track.

“Similar to the December 2018 interim milestone, we did what many thought was impossible,” NJ Transit President & CEO Kevin Corbett said in a news release.

“In addition to our employees, I want to thank our contractors (Parsons and Alstom), FRA Administrator Ron Batory and his team for their leadership and support, our partners at Amtrak, MTA, SEPTA and the many freight railroads – all of whom were critical to our success,” Corbett added. “Most importantly, I want to thank our customers for their continued patience and understanding over the last two years while we worked tirelessly to complete PTC and deliver a safer commute.”

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