February 1, 2018 2:45 PM, EST

House Panel Schedules Hearing on Positive Train Control

PTC PTC System (MetroLink)

The status of automatic braking technology implementation will headline a Feb. 15 hearing of the Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee in the House, the panel’s chairman announced.

Railroads are coming up on a deadline at the end of 2018 to install positive train control systems, technology capable of reacting along a route in order to avoid a collision.

Key policymakers acknowledge PTC’s safety potential, and call for its usage.


“PTC implementation is crucial to the safety of rail transportation for passengers, motorists and pedestrians alike. I look forward to hearing how efforts are progressing nationwide,” said Chairman Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.)

“Periodic updates ensure that everyone is working towards meeting the congressionally imposed deadline for PTC. I look forward to hearing directly from those responsible for implementing PTC on their progress,” added Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.), the panel’s ranking member.

The hearing is expected to include officials from Amtrak, the Federal Railroad Administration, transit and labor officials, private rail operators and the National Transportation Safety Board.

On Jan. 31, an Amtrak train transporting Republican lawmakers, including House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, to a legislative retreat in West Virginia struck a truck hauling garbage. One person was killed.

A December 2017 Amtrak derailment in Washington state during which three individuals were killed may have been prevented with PTC technology, according to federal investigators.

Reasons for not installing PTC technology, several rail executives have argued, include costs and requisite satellites, and the application of an intricate communication system.