VRE To Suspend Service Without PTC Extension
The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA) requires passenger rail service and freight trains carrying certain hazardous materials to have PTC operational by December 31, 2015.
On October 20, VRE received official notification from one of its host railroads, Norfolk Southern Railway (NSR), that because PTC will not be fully operational on their railroad by the deadline, VRE passenger trains will not be permitted to operate on NSR tracks after December 31. This would affect all Manassas Line trains. It is likely service on the Fredericksburg Line will also be suspended without a PTC extension.
The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) and the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC), owners of VRE, will be considering this issue at their November 5, 2015 meetings.
“Safety is VRE’s top priority, and we are fully committed to implementing PTC,” said VRE Chief Executive Officer Doug Allen. “Despite the hard work and dedication by all involved, more time is needed. We’ve been briefing our Congressional delegation since July and they are fully supportive of extending the PTC deadline. It is vitally important that the extension is approved soon.”
VRE is spending $10.5 million to implement PTC, which includes installing on-board computers and radio equipment on its locomotives and cab cars. VRE anticipates substantially completing PTC equipment installations by year-end. However, VRE operates on tracks owned by CSX Transportation and NSR. PTC work on those railroads will not be completed by the deadline.
“PTC is a set of highly advanced technologies designed to automatically stop a train before train-to-train collisions, derailments caused by excessive speed, unauthorized incursions by trains where maintenance activities are taking place, and movement of a train through a track switch left in the wrong position,” Allen said. “VRE already possesses technologies that limit train operating speeds by engaging automatic braking if a train exceeds maximum authorized speed limits.”
VRE is the tenth largest commuter rail service in the U.S. and is a transportation partnership of the Northern Virginia and Potomac & Rappahannock Transportation Commissions. It provides over 4.5 million rides annually in northern Virginia and Washington D.C.
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