PATH Completes Installation of Positive Train Control

PATH is first regional rail system to achieve compliance with federally mandated technology that can automatically prevent derailments and collisions

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has certified that PATH’s system-wide signal upgrade has met the federal regulatory requirements for Positive Train Control (PTC), achieving formal completion ahead of the FRA’s December 31 deadline and providing vital safety enhancements to the railway.

PATH is the first railroad system in the region and one of the first in the country to meet the PTC requirements by the federal deadline.

FRA certification follows extensive testing and review by the federal oversight agency and affirms PATH and the Port Authority’s compliance with all technical and operational elements of the PTC mandate. The new technology provides automatic emergency braking capabilities on each line to prevent accidents such as train-to-train collisions and derailments caused by excessive speed. It was mandated for all U.S. rail systems after a deadly Amtrak crash in California in 2008.

This year, PATH scheduled weekend station and service outages between early June and the end of October to complete the process of installing and testing equipment and software. The new PTC-mandated signal system is now operational on all PATH lines.

“The Port Authority and PATH have worked diligently to ensure that we continue to provide exceptional safety and security for all of our customers,” said Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole. “What this will mean in the long term is a safer passenger experience for PATH riders that meets the most rigorous federal safety standards.”

“A system for which safety has always been the top priority is now even safer,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “This is an important moment in PATH’s commitment to provide the highest level of safety to the riding public, and we thank all riders for their patience as PATH has installed this critical technology.”

Said PATH General Manager/Director Michael Marino: “We recognize and appreciate the efforts of our PATH team and the contractors that made it a reality, and the patience of our customers as we worked to enhance the safety of their travel experience.”

The implementation of PTC to improve train safety and passenger security is just one piece of a larger, more comprehensive system PATH is building to enhance passenger safety and convenience and improve the customer experience.

PTC is one component of Communication Based Train Control (CBTC), a more comprehensive signal system currently being installed to replace a fixed-block system that limits the movement of trains from one section to the next. CBTC calculates and communicates a train’s exact position, speed, travel direction and safe braking distance.

As installation of this comprehensive new signal system continues, regular software updates and patches required by the new technology will enable PATH to continue to fine-tune the new system.

When completed, trains will be capable of running more frequently and closer together, a key component in future plans to increase rush-hour service on PATH and reduce car and platform congestion.

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