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Update on MBTA Installation of Positive Train Control Technology

Posted on March 7, 2017

BOSTON - The MBTA's Positive Train Control (PTC) Program staff Monday presented updates about the Program to the Fiscal and Management Control Board.

The Rail Safety Improvement Act (RSIA) of 2008 defines a Positive Train Control (PTC) System as a safety system designed to prevent train-to-train collisions, over-speed derailments, incursions into established work zone limits, and movement of trains through track switches that may have been left in the incorrect position. All PTC systems are generally comprised of the same components, including an on-board apparatus for the locomotive controlling each applicable train, wayside devices (such as Wayside Interface Units), a centralized dispatch system in a back office, and a communication system that links all components.

A PTC Implementation Plan has been submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) that provides for the installation of hardware on all Commuter Rail lines and two pilot lines (Stoughton and Lowell Lines) by the end of 2018 with full PTC implementation by December 31, 2020.

The MBTA's PTC Program includes a third-party PTC SI contract with Ansaldo Signalling and Transportation Systems and with the MBTA's railroad operator, Keolis Commuter Services. The PTC Implementation Plan includes acquiring a spectrum through PTC 220 LCC or a frequency swap with the FCC; the installation of ~180 PTC antennas, ~250 PTC wayside installations, and ~4,500 PTC transponders; new optical fiber installations (~230 miles of new pole routes and ~50 miles of restored/existing pole routes); and PTC installation in 100 MBTA locomotives, twenty-five Pan Am locomotives, and 114 cab cars. The Implementation Plan also includes upgrades to dispatch centers.

Manufacturing per the plan commenced in January 2017 with vehicle, wayside, and communication installation planned to commence in March 2017. In order to meet the implementation deadline, complete and unencumbered access to the right of way will be required with some simultaneous weekend service suspensions proposed on the Commuter Rail beginning in summer 2017 and into 2018 for the Lowell, Haverhill, Newburyport, Needham, Fairmount, Rockport, Fitchburg, Franklin, and Worcester Lines as well as the Wildcat Branch. Simultaneous weekend shutdowns of the entire Lowell and Haverhill Lines will begin in July 2017. No weekend shutdowns will be required of the Greenbush, Middleborough, Providence, or Kingston/Plymouth Lines.

For more information, please see the Program's update (PDF).

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