What is being billed as a “common sense” bill to reduce regulatory burdens would remove a congressionally-imposed December 2015 deadline for railroads to deploy positive train control technology on routes used by passenger trains and trains carrying toxic chemicals.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, sponsor of the new bill, said Congress passed the PTC requirement in 2008, and the Federal Railroad Administration used contemporary rail traffic patterns to determine rail routes to be protected by PTC. Hutchison is the ranking Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee.
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Hutchison said the FRA used 2008 data to determine the routes where PTC was to be installed. However, traffic patterns have changed because of security regulations, it would no longer be necessary to deploy PTC along 10,000 route miles that will no longer carry passengers or toxic chemicals.
Hutchison said focusing on contemporary usage rather than anticipated usage at the end of 2015 pushed the congressional requirement beyond what Congress intended, inflating railroads’ cost of compliance.
PTC is an automated system designed to prevent collisions, derailments and worker injuries. Carriers say installation to meet federal regulations will cost $31 billion.
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