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MBTA Receives $20 Million Federal Grant for Positive Train Control

Posted on August 27, 2018

Grant funds support the implementation of critical Commuter Rail safety initiative


The MBTA received a grant of $20 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Railroad Administration to fund the deployment of Positive Train Control (PTC) system technology. A total of $250 million was made available to agencies that provide intercity passenger rail transportation, freight rail transportation, and/or commuter rail passenger transportation.

“Implementing positive train control is a critical component to upgrading the MBTA’s core infrastructure, improving its reliability and ensuring the safety of our commuter rail customers,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We thank the U.S. Department of Transportation for their support as the MBTA continues to make progress on installing PTC.”

“Continuing to invest in our core infrastructure also includes embracing new technology to help us achieve our goals,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “Once fully installed, PTC will enhance both the safety and efficiency of our Commuter Rail operations.”

“The safety of our passengers, employees and local community members is the top priority of the Authority,” said MBTA General Manager Luis Ramirez. “We are focused on the timely implementation of PTC across our commuter rail system and we are grateful for the partnership we have with the Federal Railroad Administration.”

Congress enacted the Rail Safety Improvement Act (RSIA) of 2008, mandating the implementation of PTC technology on all passenger railroads.

PTC systems are safety systems designed to prevent:

  • train-to-train collisions
  • over-speed derailments
  • incursions into established work zone limits,
  • movement of trains through track switches that may have been left in the incorrect position

PTC systems are comprised of:

  • 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
  • a communication system that links all components

“With this federal investment, commuting in the Commonwealth will be safer than ever before,” said Senator Edward J. Markey, a member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. “Positive Train Control technologies hold the promise of drastically reducing the risks of derailing, helping MBTA fulfill its core mission – safety. I’m proud of this investment, and look forward to continuing to fight for policies and funding that address Massachusetts’s transportation needs.”

“This federal grant to implement Positive Train Control on our Commuter Rail is wonderful news for the Commonwealth,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “By reducing the risk of derailments and collisions, this critical investment will make our trains significantly safer for Massachusetts commuters. Securing federal funding for the MBTA has been a top priority of mine since I first came to Washington and I am grateful to the Department of Transportation for this support.”

"I appreciate the Commonwealth’s focus on implementing positive train control across the MBTA’s commuter rail system," said Congressman Mike Capuano. "This funding will help Massachusetts implement an important life-saving technology and make the system safer for the travelling public."

“Securing grant funding for our PTC project allows us to deploy funds to other critical capital projects,” said MBTA Chief Financial Officer Paul Brandley. “We appreciate the continued support of the Federal Railroad Administration.”

The MBTA Commuter Rail system averages 124,000 weekday passenger trips. It is the fifth busiest commuter rail system in the United States.

Learn more about Commuter Rail Positive Train Control (PTC)

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