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Positive Train Control

Updated: 11/13/2020


In 2008, Congress passed the Rail Safety Act. This required passenger and some freight railroads to implement Positive Train Control (PTC). PTC is an integrated command, control, and communication system for better managing trains. PTC prevents:

  • train-to-train collisions,
  • over-speed derailments,
  • unauthorized operation of trains into track areas with workers on-track,
  • train movements through improperly aligned switches, and

PTC also stops trains prior to highway crossings with failed warning equipment. The MTA has hired a joint venture of Bombardier and Siemens to perform the system design and upgrades that would bring us to full PTC on both the Long Island Rail Road and Metro North Railroad.

Consortium Weekly Report

The Consortium (Bombardier and Siemens) provides the MTA with a weekly estimate of the probability of meeting their December 2020 deadline. Posting these numbers does not mean the MTA agrees with them. This is an effort to hold the Consortium accountable to the deadline. Sometimes, they will offer a different probability for the LIRR and MNR. Since this is two linked but discrete projects, there may be weeks where the situation changes for one and not the other:


  • The week ending 11/13/20: 90%
  • The week ending 16/6/20: 90%


  • The week ending 6/26/20: 97%
  • The week ending 6/19/20: 97%

There is a difference between the two because:

  • There are no back-to-back interlocking locations on MNR. This reduces technical implementation and schedule risks.
  • Amtrak runs on certain MNR lines as a tenant railroad. In the Harold Interlocking area, Amtrak and LIRR share tenant/host responsibilities in less than a mile of shared tracks. This makes interoperability a challenge.

Monthly Updates

LIRR and MNR provide monthly PTC updates to the Board at the Joint Railroad Committee meetings. These reports provide a more comprehensive status update on the project and any major issues or risks.


LIRR and MNR existing train control systems already have elements of PTC. LIRR and MNR are supplementing those systems with an Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System (ACSES) to fully implement PTC.

A joint venture of Bombardier and Siemens (the Consortium) is performing the PTC system design. This includes:

  • furnishing wayside, on-board, and back-office equipment,
  • systems integration, and
  • leading the test and commissioning for this important safety system.

The PTC deadline is December 31, 2020 and the Railroads must meet 3 major milestones:

  • Get FRA approval of their PTC Safety Plan for system certification,
  • Install full PTC operations on all mainline route miles, and
  • Achieve interoperability where tenant locomotives operating on the same main line are able to communicate to PTC and seamlessly cross property boundaries.