PTC Mission Accomplished

Employees accept the PTC High Achievement Award in the wake of extended revenue service demonstration. Pictured, from left, are Signal Inspector Ron Newcomb, President Mike Grace, Manager of Signal Terminal & Communications Ronald Wanda, General Manager Percy Fields III and PTC Signal Foreman Clint Jonas. 

The positive train control (PTC) era on the Belt has begun.

Bringing PTC to the railroad is essentially complete, with only formalities remaining. The FRA now has to complete its review of the Belt’s PTC safety plan, which should happen well before the federally mandated end-of-year deadline.

Manager of Signal Terminal & Communications Ronald Wanda and the PTC team will then fully transition to maintaining and improving the system, a job that’s already begun. 

While the Belt only has 28 miles of main line, it hosts multiple carriers and must be PTC interoperable with them so they can use the system. After installing wayside equipment and completing the lengthy implementation and testing process, working with all the railroads that traverse Belt territory began. The sheer number of railroads involved — five Class 1 freight railroads, Amtrak and Metra — made interoperability a unique challenge for the Belt as it required collaboration with the FRA and tenant railroads. It also required the ability to innovate and adapt quickly, Secretary and Director of Compliance Harold Kirman said, noting that there was no template for the work the Belt achieved as the team had to create its methods from scratch. 

“We have achieved the installation of a safety overlay in an environment that was challenging far beyond what was envisioned,” he said. “Our team stepped up.” 

The PTC team, from left, includes PTC Foreman Jim Szostak, Manager of Signal Terminal & Communications Ronald Wanda, Secretary and Director of Compliance Harold Kirman, PTC Signal Foreman Clint Jonas and Specialist Field Technician Brandon Farley (Not pictured: Signal Inspector Ron Newcomb and Senior PTC Systems Engineer Chadana Myatt).