Positive Train Control (PTC) is a system of safeguards designed to prevent certain mainline (heavy rail) railroad accidents. Specifically, PTC is used to prevent train-to-train collisions, derailments due to excessive speed, accidents caused by track malfunctions and incursions into work zones. Federal regulations require all heavy rail freight and commuter train systems, including UTA’s FrontRunner, to fully implement all aspects of PTC by Dec. 31, 2018.
There are two types of PTC to be used at UTA. The first is Enhanced Automatic Train Control (E-ATC), which is designed to automatically regulate train speed and prevent trains from running red stop signals or from operating outside their given track segment. E-ATC also ensures track switches are properly positioned during rail operations. The second type of PTC is called Interoperable Electronic Train Management system (I-ETMS). This system continually monitors trains’ stopping distances, identifies possible conflicts between trains and provides automatic train location using radio and GPS.
UTA currently has many PTC elements installed on FrontRunner through its current Automatic Train Control (ATC) system. ATC elements, which are considered the most safety sensitive requirements of PTC, are already in place on the entire FrontRunner system from Ogden to Provo. UTA is working to implement I-EMTS on the commuter rail segment between Pleasant View and Ogden, which UTA shares with Union Pacific Railroad.
In addition, UTA is simultaneously working on several other ATC measures in order to meet all E-ATC requirements and be in compliance with federal regulations. These include the installation of permanent speed enforcement systems and modifying the software that alerts the system to track areas where there may be temporary speed restrictions, such as in work zones or when reduced speeds may be necessary at grade crossings.
UTA is set to have all required elements of PTC on its FrontRunner system and approved by Federal Railroad Administration by Dec 2018. PTC is not required on the TRAX light rail system or on the S-Line streetcar.