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Reps. Lipinski, Quigley, and Newhouse and Rail Industry Leaders Urge Immediate Action to Extend PTC Deadline (October 21, 2015)

Reps. Dan Lipinski (IL-3), Mike Quigley (IL-5), and Dan Newhouse (WA-4) were joined by leaders of the passenger and freight rail industry today to urge Congress to act immediately to extend the upcoming deadline for implementing positive train control (PTC) safety technology and prevent a shutdown of the nation’s passenger and freight rail system.

“I’m pleased that House and Senate negotiators came to an agreement yesterday on an extension of the PTC mandate that sets the bar high for safety and holds the railroads’ feet to the fire,” said Rep. Lipinski.  “There is no way the railroads can meet the January 1 deadline, meaning America’s railroads would soon grind to a halt.  This extension would provide an additional three years for railroads to install the technology and obtain bandwidth, but for any further extension – up to a maximum of two years - the railroads must meet benchmarks that demonstrate serious progress and investment.  Congress must closely track the progress of the railroads to ensure that they are making sufficient investments in PTC so that they will complete installation as quickly as possible.  Now that we have an agreement, we need Congress to pass this extension without delay, preferably next week when we pass a short-term extension of the Highway and Transit reauthorization bill.”

“The consequences for inaction on positive train control are too great.  The time Congress has to avert an economic disaster is too short,” said Rep. Quigley.  “While the deadline for PTC implementation is the end of the year, preventing a major disruption of rail service requires Congress to act much sooner.  Shutting down the nations’ rail network involves more than simply flipping a switch – it involves complex logistics and will take weeks to complete.  Therefore, Congress cannot afford to wait until the last minute to act and should explore all legislative options to get the job done as soon as possible.”

“The economic damage caused by a shutdown of our nation’s rail network would be as grave as it would be unnecessary,” said Rep. Newhouse.  “Food prices would spike sharply as impacted farmers would be prevented from effectively transporting products to market.  Farmers would face increased costs procuring necessary fertilizers and pesticides.  PTC is a vital safety technology, and our nation’s rail networks require a clear timeline for reasonable implementation.  Failure to extend this deadline within the next few weeks will have a devastating impact on all Americans who rely on our nation’s rail networks.  I urge my colleagues in Congress to act on this commonsense measure to extend the deadline to implement PTC.”

The rail industry leaders that joined the members today included Kirk Dillard, Chairman of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA); Martin Oberman, Chairman of Metra; and Don Orseno, President and CEO of Metra.