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LIRR meets criteria for 2-year extension for positive train control

With weeks to go before a Dec. 31 deadline, LIRR officials said Monday they had achieved "compliance" with the Rail Safety Improvement Act.

Federal Railroad Administration officials said Monday they are

Federal Railroad Administration officials said Monday they are reviewing the LIRR's application for the extension. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

The Long Island Rail Road said it has met the conditions of a federal law requiring implementation of new crash-prevention technology, and will have another two years to put it fully in place.

With weeks to go before a Dec. 31 deadline, LIRR officials said Monday they had achieved “compliance” with the Rail Safety Improvement Act, which requires all railroads in the nation to install positive train control, or PTC, throughout their systems. PTC uses radio transponders installed on trains, and alongside tracks, to communicate with each other and automatically stop a train if it is at risk of being involved in an accident.

The federal law, which stemmed from a Chatsworth, California, commuter train crash that killed 25, originally required railroads to have PTC in place by the end of 2015. When it became apparent that most railroads could not meet the deadline, federal lawmakers agreed to push the deadline to 2018, and 2020 for railroads that meet certain minimum milestones by Dec. 31.

Federal Railroad Administration officials said Monday they are reviewing the LIRR’s application for the extension.

The railroad initially aimed to have the system fully in place by the end of 2018, but fell behind and earlier this year shifted its goal to reaching the minimum standards to comply with the law and be granted a two-year extension. Those standards included training employees and installing the needed hardware.

Among the last things the railroad had to do to get the extension was provide a new schedule for full implementation of PTC. The LIRR on Monday published that schedule, which aims to have the technology in place on all the railroad’s lines by January 2020. The railroad said it plans to roll out PTC on its first line, the Port Washington branch, next week.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority board member Neal Zuckerman on Monday said he was “disappointed” that the MTA did not achieve its original goal of having PTC in place throughout the railroad by the end of 2018, but also “deeply proud” of the work done so far.

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