What to Know
- Federal regulators have given official approval to New Jersey Transit for a two-year extension to complete the implementation of PTC system
- PTC, or positive train control, is a required emergency braking system
- NJT submitted a request for an alternate schedule to allow for full positive train control system implementation by Dec. 31, 2020
Federal regulators have given official approval to New Jersey Transit for a two-year extension to complete the implementation of a required emergency braking system.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) sent a letter this week that said NJ Transit met six key criteria by the end of December.
On Dec. 14, 2018 NJ Transit submitted to FRA a request for an alternate schedule to allow for full positive train control system implementation by Dec. 31, 2020. NJ Transit was not the only one, as several other railroad operators around the country had sought and received extensions past the original Dec. 31, 2018, deadline mandated by the federal government.
The system, called positive train control, or PTC, can automatically stop a train when its engineer is incapacitated or unable to operate controls. It was mandated by federal regulators after a 2008 commuter rail crash in California that killed 25 people, but it has taken years for the nation's freight and passenger railroads to install the complex system on locomotives and trackside infrastructure.
NJ Transit's installation, which had lagged for several years, gained more impetus after a 2016 crash at the Hoboken terminal killed a woman and injured hundreds. Beginning in early 2018, new Executive Director Kevin Corbett made it a priority, but it came with consequences for riders as trains had to be taken out of service, forcing service cutbacks during the second half of the year.
Some of the disruptions remain. The Philadelphia-to-Atlantic City line has been out of service since last fall and likely won't resume for several more weeks.
“This approval recognizes all of the hard work that so many of our employees and contractors performed over the course of 2018,” Corbett said in a statement, adding that they accomplished years' worth of work in just 10 months.
Among the next steps required by the railroad administration are that NJ Transit wrap up training more than 900 employees on the new system and, perhaps more important, conduct live testing on its 11 rail lines. Last year, NJ Transit conducted testing on a 17-mile stretch of track in western New Jersey during overnight hours.