Senate Commerce Committee to Review Positive Train Controls Oct. 3

Commuters board a Caltrain car at the transit station in Millbrae, Calif.
Commuters board a Caltrain car at the transit station in Millbrae, Calif. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

A U.S. Senate panel on Oct. 3 will review the progress of railroads’ implementation of automatic braking technology.

Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) scheduled the hearing specifically to evaluate challenges railroad operators say they are encountering with installing positive train control technology, a crash-prevention system.



Federal Railroad Administration chief Ronald Batory, NJ Transit Executive Director Kevin Corbett, Amtrak Chief Operating Officer Scot Naparstek and Government Accountability Office Director of Physical Infrastructure Issues Susan Fleming will appear before the committee.

Addressing a House subpanel Sept. 13, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt said the board was concerned that a significant portion of the country’s railroads will not meet a Dec. 31 deadline for implementing PTC.

Congress in 2015 approved a deadline for major freight and commuter rail systems to have PTC systems fully operational by Dec. 31. Railroads that demonstrate benchmarks in the implementation, however, could qualify for extensions up to the end of 2020.

According to federal investigators, an Amtrak derailment in Washington state that killed three people in December 2017 may have been prevented by using PTC systems.