October 16 - UTC Overseas says that a Congressional failure to extend the mandated deadline for the nation's railroads to install positive train control (PTC) safety systems could cause major delays and potential closures of significant portions of the US
Current legislation requires railroads to have the automated systems in place by the end of this year, but the technology is complex and is taking longer to install than was originally expected, said UTC.
Federal, state and local governmental bodies have been slow to provide the funding needed to complete the work on some 60,000 miles (96,560 km) of US track; with about 11,000 (17,702 km) completed so far.
According to UTC, if Congress does not approve a requested extension of the deadline to 2018, rail executives will be forced to shut down or curtail passenger and commercial operations to avoid potentially crippling issues of liability.
UTC is urging the need for action and pressing Congress to move swiftly, suggesting that a shutdown of commercial rail would have an immediate and direct impact on businesses like UTC, which use rail for the movement of many heavy and over-dimensional cargoes, such as electrical transformers, generators, and subsections of industrial manufacturing facilities.
It would also impact shippers of everything from chemicals, fertilisers, bulk commodities like grain, raw materials, oil and gas, and the huge volumes of containerised cargoes that move by rail, added UTC.
So far, UTC went on, 160 members of the House alone have signed a letter to Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Pelosi, urging them to bring extension legislation to a vote as soon as possible.
UTC has communicated with its customers urging them and their employees to contact their Senators and Representatives and provide them with specific examples of how their companies would be impacted if rail services were halted or curtailed, and urge them to move swiftly to enact the extension measure (The Positive Train Control Enforcement and Implementation Act of 2015) as soon as possible.