Safety is a major focal point of the railroad industry. To address safety concerns, strategic measures are used to identify the leading causes of train accidents. Studies have found the majority of incidents can be attributed to the track, equipment, and human error.

In an attempt to minimize potential collisions in the future, Congress approved the Positive Train Control (PTC) project as part of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008. The project seeks to create a system that automatically stops a train before incidents can occur because of human error. PTC is a crucial step toward reaching the ultimate goal of zero collisions.

What You Need to Know About PTC

Enacted in 2010, the PTC project is designed as a fail-safe to eliminate human error-related accidents. The entire project is a large and complex undertaking composed of hundreds of thousands of components. These components must work across a nationwide network of interconnected railroads including freight, passenger, and commuter. Once fully deployed, the PTC system will be able to determine a train’s location, direction, and speed anywhere in the U.S. This will help prevent collisions, derailments, and other potential problems.

Why Is It So Complex?

The PTC project incorporates newly developed technology that continuously relays information such as train speed, work zone locations, train movement authorization, and more. In addition, locomotive factors such as train weight, length, and the terrain have to be taken into account as well. All of this data is necessary to determine safe stopping distances. To accomplish a task as great as this, a system of various technologies such as GPS, Wi-Fi, base stations, and first-of-its-kind software are required.

How PTC Helps Prevent Accidents

All freight railroads are expected to finish implementing Positive Train Control by December 2020. Once fully up and running, PTC will use a system of information-gathering technology that will collect data needed to detect safe stopping distances. If an issue arises, the train’s onboard computer will provide advanced warnings to the locomotive engineer. These notifications can include speed limits, authority limits, and track conditions. If corrective action is not taken within a given amount of time, the system will stop the train on its own.

What PTC Can and Can’t Do

Although PTC technology will greatly improve railroad safety, it’s not a solution that was developed to address every potential problem. The system is designed to prevent specific incidents, including:

  • Train-to-train collisions
  • Derailments caused by speeding
  • Unauthorized train movements
  • Movement onto a track caused by an incorrectly positioned switch

PTC is not equipped to handle situations such as:

  • Accidents caused by track or equipment failure
  • Vehicle-train collisions
  • Accidents caused by trespassing

The Leader in HDPE Products

Pittsburgh Pipe has been contributing to the PTC project since the very beginning. We have provided vast amounts of our high-density polyethylene (HDPE) innerduct to meet the regulations of the Rail Safety Improvement Act for most of the Class I railroads across the nation. If you’re interested in learning more about our HDPE or other products and services we offer, give us a call today!

Contact Us:

2331 Hampton Ave.

Saint Louis, MO 63139

Phone: 314-383-5300