BNSF has completed installation of all mandated Positive Train Control (PTC) infrastructure on our network. We are operating trains with PTC protections on the mandated lines as we continue to test and refine this highly complex system.
As per the federal mandate, BNSF has installed the PTC infrastructure on all 88 required subdivisions, covering more than 11,500 route miles and 80 percent of our freight volume. We are running more than a thousand trains daily with PTC as we test operating in revenue service across our entire mandated territory. On June 13, 2018, BNSF announced that we nonetheless submitted a request to the Department of Transportation (DOT) for a two-year extension of the PTC deadline. The extension is required due to the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) current interpretation of the law that full implementation status cannot be achieved until all non-BNSF trains and/or equipment operating on its PTC-equipped lines are also PTC-compliant. See the full story behind the extension request.
BNSF will invest approximately $2 billion in PTC implementation. We have operated over one million trains with PTC and continue to test and refine this highly complex system that must work as designed to support safe and efficient train operations. Across BNSF’s required subdivisions:
These metrics represent where BNSF stands in some key areas as of December 31, 2017. They are derived from BNSF’s quarterly PTC progress report to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).
Here's more information about BNSF's request for a PTC deadline extension.
The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 mandated that PTC technology be installed and operating on routes that carry passengers and/or toxic-by-inhalation (TIH) commodities by December 31, 2015. In late 2015, under the Positive Train Control Enforcement and Implementation Act, Congress extended this deadline for all railroads by at least three years to December 31, 2018, with the possibility of an additional two years (December 31, 2020) for testing and fine tuning an already installed and at least partially operational PTC system.
BNSF was the first U.S. Class I railroad to complete our implementation plan. At the end of 2017, BNSF completed installing the PTC infrastructure on all 88 required subdivisions, covering more than 11,500 route miles and 80 percent of our freight volume. BNSF has operated more than one million revenue service trips under PTC, providing another layer of safety to our already robust safety program. We are currently running more than a thousand trains daily with PTC as we continue to refine the system and resolve technological challenges.
While BNSF has met the deadline for PTC implementation, other railroads, including commuter and short line carriers, operate trains across BNSF’s PTC-equipped lines every day. The extension is required due to the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) current interpretation of the law to mean that full implementation status cannot be achieved until all non-BNSF trains and/or equipment operating on our PTC-equipped lines are also PTC-compliant. This interoperability of PTC systems between Class I, commuter and short line rail carriers remains a challenge.
In regards to PTC implementation, interoperability means that all railroads operating across any of BNSF’s PTC-equipped lines be must capable of operating with BNSF’s PTC system. BNSF has already demonstrated interoperability with several passenger railroads, including commuter railroads and Amtrak that operate on our network.
BNSF is leading the North American freight rail industry with PTC interoperability. In cooperation with Metrolink in Southern California, a PTC-equipped train can now begin its journey on BNSF and seamlessly transition to Metrolink territory. Metrolink can do the same with BNSF – an important achievement since one of the primary purposes of PTC is to provide protection where railroads run freight and passenger service. We look forward to working with other railways to expand interoperability and with the FRA to ensure PTC enhances rail safety wherever it operates.
PTC is technology that overlays existing train hardware and software. As mandated by law, PTC is intended to prevent:
PTC uses GPS, Wi-Fi and high-band radio transmission to:
There are three main elements of a PTC system, which are integrated by a wireless communications system: