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Commuter Rail Positive Train Control (PTC)

Commuter rail train at a station platform.
Updated on March 22, 2018

About the Project

Timeline: 2015-2020
Status: Construction

As part of a federal mandate passed by Congress in 2008, the MBTA is installing Positive Train Control (PTC) technology across all Commuter Rail lines. The goal is to have all hardware installed by December 2018 and to have the PTC system fully operational by the end of 2020.

PTC can automatically reduce a train’s speed or even stop it to avoid a collision or derailment. It will improve safety and reduce human error on the commuter rail.

Get the latest PTC program updates


The MBTA’s PTC system is designed to prevent:

  • Train-to-train collisions
  • Derailments caused by high speed
  • Trains speeding through work zones where crews are near the tracks
  • Unexpected movement of trains through “open” switches

The system works through:

  • On-board controls that monitor and regulate a train’s speed if the operator fails to
  • Signals along the rail corridor that transmit safety data
  • System-wide communications throughout the commuter rail network
  • An upgraded, centralized dispatch for the network

This project impacts every element of the commuter rail system—the tracks on every line, hardware and software in the dispatch center, signal houses, antennae, radios and hardware on the train engines, and more.


The PTC project will improve every commuter rail passenger’s safety by reducing human error in a range of scenarios, including possible derailments and collisions.

Project Timeline

Congress first passed the mandate for the installation of PTC systems in 2008. Their original deadline of 2015 was extended to December 31, 2018, with a further extension to December 31, 2020 available to transit authorities that meet key milestones.

Years2015 – 2016ActivitiesPTC installation contract awarded to Ansaldo STS USA, Inc. (ASTS); Notice to Proceed provided
Years2017 – 2018ActivitiesInstall hardware along all Commuter Rail lines
Years2018 – 2020ActivitiesInstall software and other technical elements needed to bring PTC system online

Service Alerts

To install the hardware for PTC along the tracks, weekend service will be suspended on each line for a period of time during 2017 – 2018. No more than 2 lines should be affected at any given time.

Weekend shutdowns will take place in the fall of 2017 and spring of 2018.

Commuter Rail LineUpcoming Weekend Shutdowns
Commuter Rail LineFramingham/WorcesterUpcoming Weekend ShutdownsTBD
Commuter Rail LineFranklinUpcoming Weekend ShutdownsApril 7 – May 27, 2018
Bus shuttles replace train service


March 21, 2018

Franklin Line PTC Installation and Weekend Bus Shuttles

Weekend Commuter Rail service between Forge Park/495 and Readville stations will be replaced by MBTA bus shuttles for 8 weekends, April 7 - May 27, 2018.

March 21, 2018

PTC Program Updates

Several lines are affected by day and night operations.

Contact Information

For all queries and comments related to Commuter Rail Positive Train Control (PTC), please contact: