Positive Train Control (PTC)

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Scott Jensen
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ACC Welcomes Senate Vote to Resolve Rail Safety Issue and Help Avoid Transportation Crisis

Congress comes together to overwhelmingly pass important, time-sensitive rail safety legislation and sends it to the President for his signature. » News Release


The United States is facing an unprecedented shutdown of rail service that will send a shock wave through our economy if Congress fails to act swiftly on positive train control (PTC).

Policy Background

Under the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, railroads are required to implement PTC on lines that ship toxic inhalation hazard (TIH) chemicals and on passenger rail by December 31, 2015. The Association of American Railroads, GAO, and the  Federal Railroad Administration have clearly stated that the railroads will not be able to implement PTC by the deadline.

Furthermore, despite having a common carrier obligation to provide service, most railroads have publicly stated that they will shut down large portions of rail service unless the deadline is extended.

A major disruption of rail service would have cascading impacts on the nation’s food, energy, and water supplies, as well as transportation, construction, and nearly every sector of the U.S. economy.

In fact, according to an  economic impact analysis conducted by ACC, a rail service disruption lasting only one month would pull $30 billion out of the U.S. economy and would increase the unemployment rate with a loss of 700,000 jobs. Household incomes would fall by over $17 billion, depressing consumer confidence and spending. Vehicle sales would be driven down with 175,000 fewer cars sold, and housing starts would stall with almost 28,000 fewer homes built—all of which would have dire consequences for a multitude of industries throughout the supply chain.

The railroad industry is making steady progress and is committed to installing PTC to help ensure that shipping and travel by rail is as safe as possible. While installing PTC will yield important safety benefits, it is also very complex and must be installed on a realistic and workable timetable.

ACC Policy Position

Congress must act now to avoid this massive disruption to rail service and pass legislation that will provide the railroads with a workable and reasonable extension.