6 April: Washington, DC

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) finalized its 2021-2022 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements during a board meeting held in early April. The five-member board voted to include 10 items in the 2021-2022 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements which involve all modes of transport, including rail. One the one main item for rail is “Improve Rail Worker Safety” but what was not included drew some attention in the rail industry. Positive Train Control (PTC) first appeared on the Most Wanted List in 2001 and has been included in some form until the current 2021-2022 list. PTC is a technology that offers extra control of a train’s movements and prevents certain train accidents from occurring. The U.S. rail industry was required by law to have the technology installed by Dec. 31, 2020. Two days before that deadline, Dec. 29, the Federal Railroad Administration said PTC was in operation on all required freight and passenger railroad route miles. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) released a statement noting its appreciation of NTSB removing the safety recommendation from its Most Wanted List. “After commuter rail agencies invested more than $4 billion to implement PTC, they successfully met the statutory deadline of Dec. 31, 2020, for full PTC implementation. In addition to the $4 billion implementation cost, commuter rail operators will spend more than $100 million each year to maintain and operate the PTC system,” said Paul Skoutelas APTA president and CEO in a statement. “Industry-wide implementation of PTC has been a massive undertaking, achieved only through dedication and innovation by commuter rail operators along with PTC equipment providers, consultants and the Federal Railroad Administration.