Friday, 18 September 2015
BNSF Railway’s chief executive, Carl Ice, said September 9 that BNSF would in effect shut down most of its network rather than violate a federal law mandating that positive train control be operational by December 31. CSX Transportation has said it, too, questions whether it should violate federal laws, and other Class I carriers are likely to follow suit. This set up the real possibility of a national transportation crisis at the beginning of 2016...
BNSF reads the law as saying no train can legally operate on a PTC-mandated line if PTC is not in service by December 31... Ice adds that were his railroad to operate over lines where PTC is not in place and an accident occur, the exposure to legal claims and punitive damages would be significant.
Six years ago Congress thought it was giving railroads enough time to do this... But implementation has been a disaster. The technology being put in place is largely new. [The] FRA was slow to issue necessary rules. Signal engineers able to put all the pieces together have been in short supply. And then for more than a year everything ground to a halt because the Federal Communications Commission would not issue permits for construction of radio towers and antennae.
...Railroads have sought is an extension of the deadline, something that Congress has thus far refused to act upon...
Appears we might get a chance to try out the President’s new no-coal energy rules a bit sooner than planned.
(Thanks to J.E.D.)
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