Durbin, Duckworth Announce $18 Million in Federal Funding to IDOT for Safety Technology Implementation

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today announced that the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will receive $18,869,888 from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) safety technology on the Terminal Railroad in St. Louis, Missouri.  PTC is a federally mandated computerized system that prevents certain types of train-to-train collisions, helps avoid derailments and other accidents caused by excessive speed, and increases safety for rail workers.

“St. Louis serves as the ‘Gateway to the West’ and is a major rail hub in our nation moving people, goods, and resources.  Positive Train Control is critical to the safety of these passengers and rail employees.  This funding will greatly help IDOT meet its goal and move forward with full PTC operability,” Durbin said.

“Improving commuter rail systems is vital to supporting our state’s economic growth. This funding will go a long way towards making Illinois’s transportation systems safer and more reliable throughout the St. Louis and Metro East region,” said Duckworth.

PTC safety technology integrates GPS, communications units, and a railroad’s centralized dispatching system. Together, these components track trains, convey operating instructions and monitor the crew’s compliance.  PTC will automatically stop a train if the system detects that a violation is about to occur.

However, when the 2008 Rail Safety Improvement Act mandated PTC implementation by 2015, there was no technology capable of achieving these safety objectives for all railroads.  Our nation’s railroads have had to develop it, and they’ve had to do that with little help from the federal government.  In late 2015, Congress extended the December 31, 2015 PTC implementation deadline by at least three years to December 31, 2018, with the possibility for two additional years if certain requirements are met.  The new legislation, the PTC Enforcement and Implementation Act, required that railroads submit a revised PTC Implementation Plan (PTCIP) by January 26, 2016, outlining when and how the railroad would have a system fully installed and activated.