July 26, 2019 2:00 PM, EDT

Senate Committee to Review PTC Implementation Status July 31

Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoTransportation Secretary Elaine Chao listens during a Cabinet meeting at the White House on July 16, 2019, in Washington. Earlier this year, Chao said positive train control can save lives and protect property. (Associated Press/Alex Brandon)

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The Senate Commerce Committee on July 31 will hear from freight rail industry stakeholders about the status of automatic braking technology.

The committee, which has jurisdiction over trucking and freight policy, indicated the hearing is meant to “focus on the implementation of positive train control (PTC) and anticipated compliance with the Dec. 31, 2020, deadline.”

Ronald Batory


Witnesses scheduled to appear before the panel are Robert Bourg, vice president of Strategic Development at Wabtec Corp.; Jim Derwinski, CEO and executive director at Metra; Susan Fleming, director of physical infrastructure at the Government Accountability Office; Chris Matthews, assistant vice president of Network Control Systems at BNSF Railway; and Ronald Batory, administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration.

According to the agency, the implementation for operators entails a revenue service demonstration of uncertified PTC systems on the rail network, presenting a safety plan, gaining regulatory certification and demonstrating interoperability. In March, FRA announced the systems were operational on about 48,050 of nearly 58,000 route miles required under the congressional mandate.

Earlier this year, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao addressed industry stakeholders and said, “Once fully implemented, PTC will save lives, protect property and make America’s vast rail network considerably safer.”