Commuter Rail Positive Train Control (PTC)
Updated on July 9, 2019
As part of a federal mandate passed by Congress in 2008, the MBTA is installing Positive Train Control (PTC) technology across all Commuter Rail lines. The goal is to have the PTC system fully operational by the end of 2020.
PTC can automatically reduce a train’s speed or even stop it to avoid a collision or derailment. It will improve safety and reduce human error on the Commuter Rail.
The MBTA’s PTC system is designed to prevent:
- Train-to-train collisions
- Derailments caused by high speed
- Trains speeding through work zones where crews are near the tracks
- Unexpected movement of trains through “open” switches
The system works through:
- On-board controls that monitor and regulate a train’s speed if the operator fails to
- Signals along the rail corridor that transmit safety data
- System-wide communications throughout the commuter rail network
- An upgraded, centralized dispatch for the network
This project impacts every element of the commuter rail system—the tracks on every line, hardware and software in the dispatch center, signal houses, antennae, radios and hardware on the train engines, and more.
The PTC project will improve every commuter rail passenger’s safety by reducing human error in a range of scenarios, including possible derailments and collisions.
Congress first passed the mandate for the installation of PTC systems in 2008. Their original deadline of 2015 was extended to December 31, 2018, with a further extension to December 31, 2020 available to transit authorities that meet key milestones.
|Years||2015 – 2016||Activities||PTC installation contract awarded to Ansaldo STS USA, Inc. (ASTS); Notice to Proceed provided|
|Years||2017 – 2018||Activities||Install hardware along all Commuter Rail lines|
|Years||2018 – 2020||Activities||Install software and other technical elements needed to bring PTC system online; test PTC equipment/systems across each line|
To install and test PTC systems along the tracks (including running PTC test trains), weekend and off-peak service may need to be suspended for various Commuter Rail lines for periods of time during 2019 – 2020.
We invite you to review recent documents presented to the Fiscal Management and Control Board.