June 26, 2019

Duckworth Pushes for Swift Implementation of Positive Train Control Safety Features, Improvements in Amtrak On-Time Performance in Illinois


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) secured commitments from top transportation officials and stakeholders to address key Illinois passenger rail issues today during a hearing in the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation (CST) Committee. At the hearing, Duckworth reaffirmed industry’s commitment to fully addressing Positive Train Control (PTC) interoperability issues in the Chicagoland area from Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson and Association of American Railroads (AAR) President Ian Jefferies. Duckworth also pressed Anderson on Amtrak’s on-time performance, with Illinois’s Saluki line (Chicago-Champaign-Carbondale) averaging only 35.4% on-time performance. Video from today’s hearing is available here.

“Implementation of Positive Train Control continues to be my primary focus for the rail industry,” Duckworth said. “The December 2020 deadline is right around the corner and while significant progress has been made, I am still concerned about PTC interoperability in dynamic areas like northeastern Illinois.”

PTC is a federally-mandated advanced system designed to prevent certain types of train-to-train collisions, helps avoid derailments and other accidents caused by excessive speed or human error, and increases safety for rail workers. PTC implementation has been a top transportation priority for Duckworth, pushing for fair distribution of federal funding for its implementation. Last September, Duckworth toured Metra’s 47th Street Railcar Shop where Metra is utilizing federal funds and their skilled workforce to upgrade trains with PTC technologies, and last August Senator Duckworth and Senator Durbin announced $33,224,233 in federal funding for the implementation of PTC safety technology on Chicago-area railroads.

At last week’s first FAST Act reauthorization hearing, Duckworth received a commitment from Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Administrator Ronald Batory to provide the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) with flexibility to finalize agreements to advance the Chicago-Quad Cities passenger rail project, as well as a commitment from Administrator Batory to get the FRA more involved in addressing delays along Amtrak’s Saluki line to address signal activation issues and identify permanent solutions to improve on-time performance and end the ongoing saga.