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NCTD Completes Full Implementation of Positive Train Control

Oceanside CA— North County Transit District (NCTD) has achieved full implementation of the federally-mandated Positive Train Control (PTC) safety system for 58.5 miles of track it controls within the San Diego County portion of the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor (LOSSAN). NCTD is one of only four agencies across the country that has completed PTC implementation by the federally-mandated deadline of December 31, 2018.

PTC is an integrated command, control, communications, and information system that alerts train engineers when certain unsafe conditions exist, and stops the train when conditions warrant. PTC is designed to prevent train-to-train collisions, derailments caused by excessive train speed, train movements through misaligned track switches, and unauthorized train entry into work zones. This system increases the safety of all who use the rails.

On September 21, 2018, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) provided conditional approval of NCTD’s PTC Safety Plan and conditionally certified the PTC system. At that time, NCTD was one of only ten railroads in the nation to receive this conditional approval. The Safety Plan demonstrated to the FRA that NCTD’s PTC system met federal requirements and worked as designed.

FRA’s conditional approval of this Safety Plan and PTC system enabled NCTD to begin interoperability testing with Metrolink, Amtrak, BNSF, and Pacific Sun Railroad to validate successful integration with NCTD’s system. Metrolink successfully completed testing and began Interoperable Revenue Service Operation (RSO) on October 31, 2018, followed by Amtrak which began RSO on November 7, 2018. BNSF Railway completed testing and started RSO on December 5, 2018, followed by Pacific Sun Railroad which completed testing and commenced RSO on December 27, 2018.

On December 27, 2018, NCTD notified the FRA it had achieved full implementation of PTC based on its completion of testing to demonstrate interoperability between NCTD’s PTC system and all passenger and freight trains operating within the San Diego portion of the LOSSAN rail corridor. As of December 31, 2018, all trains operating on the NCTD San Diego subdivision are operating with PTC protection.

“To finally be able to say that this system is fully implemented is so rewarding. The enhanced safety that it brings to our customers and train crews is unmatched,” said Rebecca Jones, Chair of NCTD’s Board of Directors. “And I’m especially pleased to be able to say it was done by the deadline without the need for an extension. The partnership of our staff, our contractors, and our rail partners that was needed to make this happen has been wonderful to see. I would also like to thank our federal and state elected officials for ensuring that NCTD was provided the critical funding needed to implement PTC.”

“We’re very glad to have been partners with NCTD in this process,” said Jim Hanlon, Herzog’s Vice President of Rail Systems. “This truly is a success story and we’re thankful to have played a role in it.” Herzog has been working on the design, installation, and implementation of PTC for NCTD since 2012.

The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 requires railroads to install PTC systems on tracks that carry passengers or toxic-by-inhalation materials. Based on a January 2012 final FRA rule, the Association of American Railroads estimates that PTC technology will be deployed on about 63,000 miles of U.S. freight rail lines.