NJ Transit’s Positive Train Control (PTC) system has met its end-of-year implementation deadline and has now been certified by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).
Gov. Phil Murphy said he made this project a priority when he took office in 2018. At that time, the project was at just 12% completion toward the 2018 interim goal for equipment and infrastructure installation.
“After nearly a decade of neglect and disinvestment under the previous administration, I’m thrilled that NJ Transit’s PTC system will receive certification from the Federal Railroad Administration,” said Murphy. “As our post-COVID future takes shape in the months ahead, hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans will again turn to our rail system for their commutes and NJ Transit will be ready to get them to their destinations more safely than ever.”
Increases Rider Safety
Kevin Corbett, NJ Transit President & CEO, explained the primary goal was a safer commute for the millions who ride the rails each year, and who are expected to return in 2021.
“We could not have been successful without the hard work and dedication of the NJ TRANSIT employees assigned to this project, which was arguably one of the most complex in the country,” said Corbett. “Most importantly, I want to thank our customers for their continued patience and understanding over the last two years while we worked tirelessly to complete PTC.”
This system is intended to prevent:
- Train-to-train collisions;
- Derailments caused by excessive speed;
- Unauthorized train movements in work zones; and
- Movement of trains through switches left in the wrong position.
End-of-Year Project Deadline
“New Jersey Transit is one of the nation’s busiest commuter rail systems, which is why the addition of PTC technology is so important,” said Congressman Albio Sires in a press statement. “I am glad NJ Transit is on track to meet its mandated deadline and that the implementation of these common-sense rail safety standards are nearing completion.”
The passage of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 required the implementation of a PTC system on all non-exempt commuter railroads. In 2015, Congress extended the deadline for full implementation to Dec. 31, 2018, but allowed FRA to approve any railroad’s request for an alternative schedule, with a final deadline of Dec. 31, 2020, if the railroad demonstrated it met certain statutory criteria by that 2018 interim deadline.
“We’re delighted that NJ Derailments has been able to complete their installation of PTC and thank them for the focus and collaboration under Governor Murphy’s and CEO Kevin Corbett’s leadership over the past few years,” said Tony Coscia, Amtrak Board Chair. “It’s clear that NJ Transit and Amtrak share the same commitment to safety, customer service and growth and this stands as another example of how our partnership is delivering value for the public, even in these difficult times.”
Lowers Risk of Human Error
PTC technology enhances rail safety by monitoring and controlling train movements. Using Global Positioning System technology, Wi-Fi and high band radio transmission, PTC is capable of automatically controlling train speeds and movements, thereby reducing the risk of accidents due to human error.
“This is good news for riders and a significant milestone for NJ TRANSIT in delivering a safe and reliable system for its customers,” said Sen. Bob Menendez, the ranking member of the Senate’s transit subcommittee. “Positive Train Control is a proven life-saving technology that can automatically slow down a train when its operator cannot or becomes incapacitated for any reason. Full implementation of PTC makes our rails safer and prevents tragedy.”
State leaders commended both Murphy and NJ Transit leaders for getting the project back on track and in position to meet this implementation deadline.
“After years of delay under the previous administration, Gov. Murphy and the leadership at NJ TRANSIT deserve credit for making smart investments and prioritizing the completion of PTC installation in time to meet the federal deadline,” said Menendez.
Sen. Cory Booker echoed his colleague’s sentiments, stating “The full implementation of this life-saving technology is welcome news for the hundreds of thousands of New Jersey rail passengers who rely on safe and reliable service. I applaud Governor Murphy and the team at NJ TRANSIT on this significant milestone and for their commitment to passenger safety.”
The state was at risk for fines if the project deadline was not met.
“Under Gov.Murphy, NJ Transit inherited a PTC program that was greatly behind and in danger of large fines come next year,” said Assemblyman Daniel Benson (D-14), Chairman of the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee. “Passenger and employee safety must and always will be the number one priority on New Jersey trains.”
PTC required design, development, prototype testing, retrofitting locomotives and cab cars, installation of 326 miles of wayside equipment including radios, transponders and poles, as well as initiating PTC testing and employee training.
“It took an amazing effort by our dedicated staff to complete this system on time, and I want to thank everyone who worked so diligently to get this done,” said Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, Transportation Commissioner and NJ Transit Chair.
NJ Transit’s PTC system consists of three main elements:
- Radio transponders and other equipment onboard locomotives or cab control cars;
- Antennas, transponders and other equipment along the railroad right-of-way (ROW); and
- Computer servers and systems for the Rail Operations Center (ROC).
“This has been a brutal year for New Jerseyans and for our lifeblood transit lines,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell, recalling accidents in recent years that included the Hoboken Terminal crash, the tragedy on Amtrak outside Philly, and the Metro-North derailment in Spuyten Duyvil. “(This) show us the need for PTC because it can save lives. When we get our system back to full strength commuters will feel more secure in the safety of our system.”