Forum - Positive Train Control Systems

WASHINGTON - The National Transportation Safety Board will hold a public forum on Positive Train Control (PTC) on February 27, 2013. The 1-day forum -- "Positive Train Control: Is it on Track?" -- will bring together a wide range of experts to discuss the technological, the regulatory, and the operational status of PTC.

"Over forty years since the NTSB issued its first recommendation addressing collision avoidance technologies on the railroad and after years of dialogue with industry officials, we continue to investigate accidents where PTC could have prevented the accident and saved lives" said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman.

The NTSB issued its first recommendation calling for automatic train control in 1970; 20 years later in 1990, the need for a safety redundancy system on railroads still existed, and positive train separation (which was renamed positive train control in 2001) was first placed on the Safety Board's Most Wanted List. In March 2005, the NTSB held a symposium on PTC to reinvigorate the dialogue between the railroad industry and state and federal agencies on issues relevant to the implementation of PTC systems. During that 2-day meeting, the NTSB examined each of the major aspects of PTC systems including safety, efficiency, and operational issues.

"As the industry prepares to make substantial infrastructure investments, this is a timely opportunity to engage in the dialogue and advocate for this important safety enhancement," Hersman said.

Following a collision involving a Metrolink passenger train and a Union Pacific freight train that claimed 25 lives in Chatsworth, California, Congress passed the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008. The President signed the Act into law, which included a key provision requiring Class I railroads, regularly scheduled intercity and commuter rail passenger carriers to develop and submit to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, within 18 months, individual plans for the implementation of a PTC system by December 31, 2015.

The "Positive Train Control: Is it on Track?" forum will be held in the NTSB Conference Center in Washington, DC, and is free and open to the public. A detailed agenda and a list of speakers are forthcoming.


Chairman Hersman questions panelist during the PTC forum.

Grady Cothen, Independent Transportation Consultant, participates in NTSB's 1-day public forum on Positive Train Control (PTC)

Gerhard Thelen of Norfolk Southern Corporation answers questions from NTSB Board members during PTC forum.

NTSB Board Member Mark Rosekind listens to panel discuss various technologies during the PTC forum.

Panelist participating in the PTC forum

NTSB PTC forum panelist Steven Ditmeyer of Independent Transportation Consultant

NTSB Board Member Robert Sumwalt questions panelist at the PTC forum.

NTSB staff responds to questions from the NTSB Board members during the PTC forum.

Dr. Mark Hartong, Senior Scientific and Technical Advisor for Railroad Electronics with the Federal Railroad Administration, provides technical information regarding PTC.

NTSB public events are also streamed live via webcast. Webcasts are archived for a period of three months from the time of the meeting. Webcast archives are generally available by the end of the event day for public Meetings, and by the end of the next day for Technical conferences.

If you wish to obtain a copy of NTSB meetings, please contact the NTSB Records Management Division at (202) 314-6551 or 800-877-6799. You may also request this information from the NTSB web site or write the following: National Transportation Safety Board, Records Management Division (CIO-40), 490 L'Enfant Plaza, SW,Washington, DC 20594.