NJ Transit Meets Positive Train Control Deadline

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Source: NJ Transit announcement

KEARNY, N.J. — Governor Phil Murphy announced last week that NJ TRANSIT’s Positive Train Control (PTC) system had been certified by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) as meeting the December 31, 2020 deadline for implementation.

This comes after nearly three years of around-the-clock work, first to meet the interim milestone for equipment and infrastructure installation at the end of 2018, and then to achieve this certification for full implementation. When Governor Murphy took office in January of 2018, the project was at just 12 percent completion toward the 2018 interim goal for equipment and infrastructure installation.

“The Federal Railroad Administration’s certification of NJ TRANSIT’s Positive Train Control system improves safety for our customers by using technology to reduce the risk of human error,” said Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Chair Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. “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.”

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“We could not have been successful without the hard work and dedication of the NJ TRANSIT employees assigned to this project, which was arguably one of the most complex in the country,” said NJ TRANSIT President & CEO Kevin Corbett. “Similar to the December 2018 interim milestone, we did what many thought was impossible. 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.”

“As FRA Administrator, one of my greatest privileges has been to oversee—and stand alongside—NJ TRANSIT as it fully implemented FRA-certified and interoperable PTC systems on its network,” said Ronald Batory, Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration. “I salute and commend the perseverance and commitment at all levels of NJ TRANSIT’s team to meeting this important deadline.”

“Achieving this critical milestone was made possible by the combined collaboration, innovation, and determination of NJ TRANSIT, Federal Railroad Administration, Parsons and Alstom,” said Chuck Harrington, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Parsons. “The team worked tirelessly through a global pandemic to ensure the safety of New Jersey’s rail network.”

PTC is technology to enhance rail safety by monitoring and controlling train movements. Using Global Positioning System technology, Wi-Fi and high band radio transmission, PTC is capable of automatically controlling train speeds and movements, thereby reducing the risk of accidents due to human error.

The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 required the implementation of a PTC system on all non-exempt commuter railroads, including NJ TRANSIT. In 2015, Congress extended the deadline for full implementation to December 31, 2018, but also allowed FRA to approve any railroad’s request for an alternative schedule, with a final deadline of December 31, 2020, if the railroad demonstrated it met certain statutory criteria by that 2018 interim deadline.  PTC is intended to prevent:

Train-to-train collisions;
Derailments caused by excessive speed;
Unauthorized train movements in work zones
Movement of trains through switches left in the wrong position.

As a new technology, PTC required design, development, prototype testing, retrofitting locomotives and cab cars, installation of 326 miles of wayside equipment including radios, transponders and poles, as well as initiating PTC testing and employee training.

PTC systems feature computer-based communications and information technology designed to improve railroad safety. PTC will complement NJ TRANSIT’s existing cab signaling system and Automatic Train Control (ATC) technology.

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NJ Transit’s PTC system consists of three main elements:
Radio transponders and other equipment onboard locomotives or cab control cars;
Antennas, transponders and other equipment along the railroad right-of-way (ROW);
Computer servers and systems for the Rail Operations Center (ROC).

NJ TRANSIT’s rail system includes 12 commuter rail lines, most operating on tracks shared with other freight and passenger railroads. On the heavily travelled Northeast Corridor (NEC), which is owned by Amtrak, a different PTC system is in use. Although functionally similar, the various PTC systems need to communicate with one another. The coordination required to ensure interoperability with NJ TRANSIT’s five tenant railroads, including the two largest (Conrail and Norfolk Southern), added significant layers of complexity of the project.

To view the entire announcement, click HERE.

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