Funding to aid PTC mission

The Belt will receive up to $8.6 million in funding for Positive Train Control (PTC) implementation.

Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)-awarded funds are earmarked for a PTC deployment and interoperability testing project. The award will help complete the final phase of BRC’s I-ETMS PTC systems engineering, integration, testing and training on its entire main line network in Cook County. 

Business Analyst Steven Mazurski is excited about the development. He said the funding will relieve some of the financial burden that the Belt has shouldered relating to the government’s PTC mandate and will allow the company to use capital resources in other important areas. 

The Belt has already used a great deal of capital on the installation of wayside equipment. The FRA award will be spent on testing related to interoperability, which allows other railroads to communicate with Belt PTC servers and access crucial information that informs in-cab equipment that offers crews a visual display of track layout.

In order for in-cab equipment, or TMC, to work properly, other railroads — specifically tenant railroads that operate on approximately 2,300 feet of Belt main line, including Amtrak, Metra and all of the Belt’s owners— must have access to the Belt’s PTC “back office,” the server structure that supports the railroad’s PTC system and holds an important file. The data contained within the file — known as a “subdiv” file — populates the TMC’s screen and includes the geographical layout and important features of the Belt’s main line. This allows PTC to function, inform train crews and ultimately perform the task for which PTC was designed: automatically apply brakes in emergencies. 

The award was part of the FRA’s distribution of $203,698,298 in grant funding for 28 projects in 15 states to assist with PTC deployment. 

“These $200 million in grants will help the railroads continue to implement PTC, a technology that could help reduce accidents and save lives,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory said it was the goal of his agency to get funds to railroads as quickly as possible and he encouraged eligible applicants to apply for additional grants. 

In making the selection decisions for the PTC grants, the factors that FRA considered included supporting economic vitality; leveraging federal funding; using innovative approaches to enhance safety and expedite project delivery; and holding grant recipients accountable for achieving specific, measurable outcomes.