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Commuter Rail Positive Train Control (PTC)

Commuter rail train at a station platform.
Updated on May 24, 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.

See how PTC improvements will affect your trip

Benefits

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.

Goals

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.

YearsActivities
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 Shutdowns
Commuter Rail LineFranklin LineUpcoming ShutdownsAll weekends April 7 – May 27, 2018
Bus shuttles replace train service
Commuter Rail LineLowell LineUpcoming ShutdownsAll weekends May 12 – 27, 2018
Most weekends July 7 – August 26, 2018
Bus shuttles replace train service
Commuter Rail LineWorcester LineUpcoming ShutdownsAll weekends May 26 – August 5, 2018
Bus shuttles replace train service, in 2 phases

Updates

May 24, 2018

Lowell Line Weekend Bus Shuttles

For all weekends May 12 – 27, bus shuttles replace Commuter Rail service on the Lowell Line.

May 22, 2018

PTC Weekly Activities

Several lines are affected by day and night operations.

May 21, 2018

Worcester Line Weekend Bus Shuttles

For all weekends May 26 - July 29, bus shuttles replace Commuter Rail service on varying parts of the Worcetser Line.

May 4, 2018

Franklin Line Weekend Bus Shuttles

For all weekends April 7 - May 27, bus shuttles replace Commuter Rail service between Forge Park/495 and Readville.

Contact Information

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