BNSF and UP PTC letters to Congress

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BNSF and UP PTC letters to Congress

Postby JayBee » Wed Sep 09, 2015 8:42 pm

Both BNSF and UP have sent letters to Senator John Thune head of the US Senate Transportation Subcommittee saying that they will not violate the law that says that they cannot operate trains on their mainlines unless PTC is installed and operational. UP also announced that they will post an Embargo Notice for all TIH shipments shortly before Thanksgiving in order to not have any TIH shipments or residue empties on-line on January 1st, 2016. This is in order for all TIH shippers to plan for an orderly shutdown.
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Re: BNSF and UP PTC letters to Congress

Postby Rockingham Racer » Thu Sep 10, 2015 6:16 am

And let the fur begin to fly. The timeline of the law's implementation was not researched well by the good ole Congress in the first place, IMO.
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Re: BNSF and UP PTC letters to Congress

Postby v8interceptor » Thu Sep 10, 2015 11:49 am

I suspect that the deadline will ultimately be pushed back but you never know these day what Congress will do..
Unless I'm mistaken the letter of the law allows freight trains to operate on non-PTC equipped routes but no Hazardous materials can be transported nor can any passenger trains run.
I expect that that might play a bit of Havoc with Amtrak operations...
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Re: BNSF and UP PTC letters to Congress

Postby ExCon90 » Thu Sep 10, 2015 2:53 pm

Rockingham Racer wrote:And let the fur begin to fly. The timeline of the law's implementation was not researched well by the good ole Congress in the first place, IMO.

That's for sure. When Congress enacted the law, PTC was a concept--like time travel. The effective date was purely arbitrary and the mountain makers are treating it as though it's immutable.
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Re: BNSF and UP PTC letters to Congress

Postby bdawe » Sat Sep 12, 2015 11:54 am

Does the law actually say that specified trains cannot operate, or merely that railroads will be fined for non-compliance?
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Re: BNSF and UP PTC letters to Congress

Postby JayBee » Sat Sep 12, 2015 12:39 pm

bdawe wrote:Does the law actually say that specified trains cannot operate, or merely that railroads will be fined for non-compliance?


The law says that the railroad will be fined for non-compliance, the kicker is that some of the fines are for trains operated where the leading locomotive is not equipped or is equipped but the equipment is not operational. So if you operate 50 trains over a line segment that is supposed to be equipped you will be fined 50 times, in addition to any other fines. And the fine is $25,000 per occurance. And the railroads are also concerned about additional legal liabilities if a train without PTC has an accident, not just from legal fines but also from punitive damages from injured parties.
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Re: BNSF and UP PTC letters to Congress

Postby RussNelson » Sat Sep 12, 2015 1:11 pm

Good! I hope they stick to their guns. "If you're going to fine us for operating as we always have, we're going to stop operating as we always have, and let the chips fall where they may."
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Re: BNSF and UP PTC letters to Congress

Postby DogBert » Sat Sep 12, 2015 2:31 pm

From a different thread: viewtopic.php?f=53&t=160553

CSX let's them know they'll have to stop running on metro north & other commuter routes... and not accept Amtrak passenger trains.
http://www.lohud.com/story/news/transit ... /72085824/

I'd really like to say it's a no brainer to extend the deadline, but there are very few brains in DC.
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Re: BNSF and UP PTC letters to Congress

Postby Gadfly » Tue Sep 22, 2015 9:43 am

RussNelson wrote:Good! I hope they stick to their guns. "If you're going to fine us for operating as we always have, we're going to stop operating as we always have, and let the chips fall where they may."



Its a funny thing how we've operated for 150 years without such and rarely had collisions or headlight meets. :( You'd think we've been wrecking trains every hour! But now suddenly its this generation of Congressmen and women who will "fix" it as if the railroads were/are stupid. :( I hope they remain firm about it.

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Re: BNSF and UP PTC letters to Congress

Postby railfan365 » Mon Sep 28, 2015 12:27 pm

Extensions of time to get given features working are legitimate, others aren't. For example, for some of the safety features that are universal on automobiles due to government regulation, the automakers were allowed a phase in period (airbags for one example) or a delay (high mounted break lights were going to be mandatory starting with the 1984 models but the manufacturers were given a 2 year extension to 1986 based on the flimsy assertion that they need time to work into styling). Required pollution control started with modest limits in the early 1960's and have been getting progressively tighter with advances in technology being taken into account, but some of the delays requested being based on cost considerations.

Back to railroads - with a multitude of trains in service, thousands of track miles in issue, and various combinations of railroad companies sharing tracks, it seems to be ESSENTiAL that a delay or phase in be allowed rather than mandate full compliance on just a few months notice.
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Now - The New York Times

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Wed Oct 28, 2015 10:24 am

Today, The New York Times printed a co-authored (well, let's just say respective Staff Writers) Op-Ed between Matt Rose, Executive Chairman of BNSF and Andrew Leviris, the CEO of Dow Chemical. This piece, obviously favoring an extension of the year end "sudden death', is interestingly by one guy who ships by rail a lot of stuff than can go 'boom" and the guy who hauls a lot of that stuff:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/28/opini ... s-why.html

Fair Use:

P.T.C. is the most significant technological innovation in railroading since the diesel engine replaced the steam engine, but it poses an unprecedented challenge. There are numerous, complex steps that need to be taken in order to implement it.

Extremely precise data from train tracks and the locomotive must be integrated and processed to allow advanced hardware to stop a 100-car freight train that is over one mile long, weighs 6,000 tons and travels at 55 miles an hour — in any given location and weather. Each one of these elements must be fine-tuned, precisely aligned and must work with every other railroad’s trains.

Because Congress established the original deadline, only Congress can extend it. So far, this has not happened, and if it doesn’t, railroads and their customers will have to take steps to anticipate the shutdown ahead of the actual deadline expiration. Shutting down railways is not like turning a light off. It is a process that will take time and significant effort. We will need to start removing rail cars, including those that carry cargo necessary for public health and safety.


First the disclaimer: although my "CV" holds eleven years experience within the railroad industry, none of such includes technical aspects.

Positive Train Control, lest we forget, was Congressional reaction to Chatsworth within Rail Safety Improvement Act 2008. It, along with its "tack on" PRIIA 08, was enacted by a Lame Duck administration, who, along with the legislators who passed it, I doubt knew much about the provisions within such. The "old saw" of "you'll have to vote for it to find out what's in it" was certainly applicable here.

What did President Bush care; he was just "kicking the can down the road" to an incoming administration! He's "outta there" before anything within the Act was to be implemented.

With this being said, I think the industry figured "it'll just go away". I think that at the outset, the industry's reaction was, if ever implemented, it would simply cover passenger trains where operated in any volume (the Amtrak "one a day' exempt). If that comes to pass, well that is what T/P's pockets are for (oh and T/P; that's IRSese for Taxpayer). But as the FRA began drafting Regulations representing their interpretation of the Act, it became evident that HAZMAT in practically any volume would be brought in. The industry's "now we believe" moment came when the realization that all lines handling freight above a very low level of volume were within the scope of the Regs.

All told, since Chatsworth, there has been, just off my head, Red Oak, Goodwell, and Frankford Jct - all of which had fatalities and would have been avoided had PTC, as presently defined, been active.

For the industry, freight and passenger, there appears 'no way out" other than to comply; for Congress and the President, there appears to be "no way out" other than to extend.
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Re: BNSF and UP PTC letters to Congress

Postby railfan365 » Wed Oct 28, 2015 3:26 pm

Thanks, Mr. Norman. More details than my previous post, and most of them useful, in getting to the point that PTC is essential, but massive and complex. Thus, the railroads should be allowed some additional time to get it in place and working right. (To the poster who said that the railroads worked fine for many years without it, I say that while most train trips go smoothly without it, even a few exceptions with severe consequences justify getting it in. The controversy is in how it gets done.)
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Re: BNSF and UP PTC letters to Congress

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sat Dec 05, 2015 8:08 am

Looks like PTC is going "down to the wire". I would have thought the legislation would be 'tacked on" to the Highway Bill in much the same manner as PRIIA 08 done with RSIA 08, but no -- we have to wait until New Years Eve to know whether or not there will be trains, freight and passenger, come 2016:

https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-con ... 51/actions
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Re: BNSF and UP PTC letters to Congress

Postby locoelec » Thu Apr 07, 2016 10:16 am

PTC is a gigantic debacle! BNSF is leading the charge currently, and the system is plagued with nothing but problems: software issues, compatibility problems, communication problems, hardware problems, training problems, infrastructure problems....problems, problems, problems. The next deadline will be pushed again due to the massive complexity of this congressional mandate. On the other hand though, Wabtec is making a killing selling parts to the railroads and this also means many years of job security for all of the locomotive electricians and telecom electricians out there……… :wink:
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Re: BNSF and UP PTC letters to Congress

Postby MichaelB86 » Wed Jul 13, 2016 9:27 pm

Not to mention the friendly PTC Help desk guy who always chimes in with his life story when you're half a car from a joint somewhere deep in a siding lol He'll put his kids through college with all the bugs that PTC has to offer.
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