tv Senate Commerce Committee Hearing on Positive Train Control CSPAN October 15, 2018 4:03pm-6:03pm EDT
tonight atcal eastern on c-span2. -- at 8:00 eastern on c-span2. c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies. and today, we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court, and public policy events in washington, d.c. and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. now the senate transportation committee looks at implementing positive train control technology designed to automatically stop a train before certain accidents could occur. congress set a deadline of december 31st, 2018, for implementation of this technology, however, railroads can apply for a two-year extension if they meet certain criteria. witnesses include officials from
amtrak, the federal railroad administration, the government accountability office, and new jersey transit. this is just under two hours. good morning. we convene today's hearing at a crit carbon monoxidecal time for positive train control or ptc kblmt implementation. we are approximately three months away from the december 3 isth stater to deadline for implementation. according to the federal railroad administration most recently quarterly progress report nine commuter railroads were at risk of not meeting the criteria to qualify for an extension by the end of the year. the act passed by congress and
signed into law by president obama in october of 2015 extented the original deadline of december 31st, 2015 amid reports that no railroad could meet the deadline and many were contemplating halting service or shipments for essential supplies. this committee on a bipartisan basis took action to avert a rail shutdown and set a realistic framework for implementation. the law now requires railroads to im implement ptc by december 31st, 2018 but allows a railroad to apply for an extension of up to 24 months to ensure ptc works as intended if and only if that railroad meets milestones like hardware install laying, spectrum acquisition and employee training and meets other milestones. for class one freight railroads and amtrak the bar is higher. ptc must be implemented or in revenue service demonstration on a majority of the required territories or route miles.
since march of 2014, railroads have made significant progress in implementation which is an enormous undertaking. as of june 30th the end date for the progress report frait railroads said 93% of locomotives equipped and operable and 73% of passenger installation. freight railroads installed 99% of radio towers and passenger railroads installed 91%. an increase of 20% in just the last quarter. of 6% of freight route miles were in ptc operation as of june 30. and 24 horizon of passenger route miles were in ptc operation. there is clearly more work to do. but the administrator has been instrumental in stepping up the oversight of the ptc implementation. fra has met with executives from the 4 is railroads required to implement of ptc.
fra has also met individually with the major component suppliers, has held three symposia to share best practices and expectations with regulated entities and awarded over 2-million in grant funding for implementation pushing the total federal support to well over $3 billion. as i stated in february, fra should have had a confirmed administrator, especially one as qualified as mr. batory much sooner. we owed to it the traveling public to do everything we could to help eliminate future collisions. however impleased to say that the administrator was confirmed despite over six months of obstruction and his leadership has made a difference for successful implementation. with that said there is risk of railroads not qualifying for extension at the end of the year. that is a major focus of today's hearing. if commuter railroads do not meet the requirements of the law by the end of the year we must understand any effects this may have on the riders who rely on rail service to commute to work, see family members or visit a
doctor. we also need to have a clear picture of fra's enforcement strategy for entities who may not comply with the law. finally this hearing will provide an opportunity to examine the path to full implementation, whether it is working through interoperability avenues or finalizing plans. this morning we will hear from a panel of witnesses who have expertise in positive train control and can provide useful insight into the end of year deadline as well as full implement. i want to welcome you. look forward to all of your testimonies. i now turn to senator nelson for opening ration. >> mr. chairman first i would like to congratulate you on a significant achievement. today we will pass the faa bill. i will have the privilege of speaking just before the vote. congratulations to your leadership. this is the first five-year faa bill since the 1980s.
and it will give the certainty to the aviation industry of the policy as set forth specifically by this committee. so i congratulate you as well as the committee. and thank you for having this hearing on positive train contr control. railroads simply must complete the installation of positive train control. without these safety systems in place, we will continue to see the tragic accidents that could have been avoided. and one such crash occurred in my state, an amtrak, just this year, traveling to florida was in a head-on collision with a csx freight train. that resulted in the death of an engineer and a train conductor
from florida. and more than 100 injured. implementing ptc can be expensive and complicated. and there are serious technical challenges involved. but i also know that many railroads have overcome these challenges. other railroads continue to struggle, including some in florida. we do that end provide nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in grant funding in addition to the $2 billion in federal support that had previously been provided. and that effort was supposed to ensure that ptc would be quickly implemented. but it's still not the case.
many of us remain concerned that some railroads haven't lived up to their end of the bargain to meet the 2018 deadline. and the department of transportation must also be a strong partner in the process. unnecessary delays of grant funding or agency approval should not be a hurdle to those getting the technology in place. we have a responsibility to learn from the tragedies of past rail accidents, and to improve the safety of our rail lines. i look forward to the hearing. >> thank you senator nelson. and congratulations to you and your staff and members on both sides for getting this faa bill across the finish line today. that was -- it required terrific bipartisan cooperation. and so thank you to you and your team, and our teams for getting that done. it is got a lot of very important policy in it, and something that many of us
believe is long overdue. but today we are going to talk about railroads today. i want to start by welcoming our panel. honorable batory will lead off. followed by susan fleming. mr. kevin corbett, and mr. scott naparst naparstek. so we appreciate you being here. we look forward to hearing what you have to say and to interacting with you during question-and-answers. we would ask you to confine your statements as close to five minutes as possible in your oral presentation. and we will make sure your entire statement is included as official record in the proceeding. mr. batory. >> thank you for the opportunity
to testify today to discuss positive train control, ptc, systems. the secretary and myself have made railroads implementation fra's top priority. while railroads are making progress, fra expects most railroads will need to request an alternative schedule to complete testing, obtain system certification, activate ptc on all required route miles and meet interoperability requirements. since april 2016, fra has tracked railroads self reported implementation on a quarterly basis. based on railroads' most recent reports as of june 30th. ptc systems are in operation on 66% of the freight railroads's required route miles. passenger railroads made less progress with ptc systems in operation on 24% of what is
required. also as of june 30 ptc services are in demonstration on other files. there is a reduction of the number of railroads fra considers to be at risk of not meeting the deadline schedule. to nine this year. fra currently considers any railroad that has installed less than 90% of it is hardware by june 30th to be at lest risk of failing to qualify for the all termtive schedule. it is important to note installation of all ptc system hardware is only one of the six criteria required to qualify for an alternative schedule to complete fuel ptc system implementation after december 31st, 2018. fra is in frequent communication
and providing additional on-site technical assistance to further assist these railroads. this center and for the first time in agency history fra hosted three symposia for the to be compliant railroads. each of the sessions brought together railroads officials and fra's ptc experts to ensure each railroads' obligation to the mandate is aware of its obligations and equipped to meet the deadlines. these meetings discussed industry questions and lessons learned. requirements for the december 31st, 2018 deadline, best practices for testing, and safety plans. ptc is designed to provide important risk reduction protocols to enhance existing safety. but these systems come with significant cost. sense 2008, fra has awarded approximately $961 million in grant funds to support railroads
implementation. more recently, on august 24, fra selected 28 ptc projects, including 13 commuter railroads, to receive over $203 million of the scan dated rail infrastructure and safety improvement chrissy grant program. of the 203.7 million dollars announced 39% was announced for at-risk railroads. since 2008, a total of $2.5 billion has been allocated to the railroads to assist with ptc. in an effort to show fra continued commitment to ptc implementation -- providing an opportunity for to $46 million remaining in grants on december 13th. this is an expedited solicitation with only a 30 day application. applications are due october 12th.
looking forward to the rest of the year 2019 the fra will continue to support ptc utilizing the tools afford by congress and providing he can tensive technical assistance. i appreciate the committee's support for our programs and look forward to your questions. thank you mrs. batory. next up. >> ranking member, and members of the committee thank you for the tune to provide an update on passenger railroads implementation and fra's oversight of ptc. it is one of the most promising technical advances in rail safety in decades. and jra has been closely tracking and recording ptc efforts since 2010. as i testified in march our work has shown that progress toward full ptc implementation has been slow. this is particularly true for most of the passenger railroads required to implement ptc which
includes 28 commuter railroads and amtrak. in light of the many challenges, we have consistently cautioned that some railroads may not meet required deadlines. we are now fast approaching the revised deadline of december 2018 for railroads to either ifly implement ptc or seek a maximum extension of up to two years. today i will focus on passenger railroads progress and fra's efforts to approach them and you this railroads and fra plan to i a proech ptc implementation to meet the deadlines. with respect to railroads' progress we found while some passenger railroads continue to make progress many remained in the implementation stages meaning equipment installation and initial field testing. as of june, roughly two thirds of passenger railroads required having installed more than 90% of equipment on trains or alongside tracks. fra uses equipment installation
status to identify at risk railroads for not meeting the deadline and not qualifying for extension. nine railroads remain on the list. since i last testified amtrak indicated it started field testing and revenue service demonstration or rsd. some of the 28 commuter railroads show progress initiating field testing with six joining the 13 that already had done so. only two additional railroads reported initiating rsd bringing that total to eight. initiating rsd is important for several reasons. first i allows railroads to test trains operating ptc as part of the regular operations. second as railroads receive fra approval, they must -- qualify for an extension. in this regard, fra's clarification about criteria may
lessen concerns about the 20 passier railroads that had yet to niche nate rsd. we held impostia. there, fra officials explained initiating field testing could qualify as substitue criteria. railroad executives we interviewed welcomed this information as well as fra's willingness to share lessons learns. a few wish fra shared this information much sooner. turning to this year's deadline we heard from most passenger railroads and officials that the focus would be on he can tensions. eight passenger railroads anticipate reaching full implementation by december. fra has conditionally certified safety plans for most of these railroads. however, even these railroads may or may not achieve full implement on all route miles by year's end. the remaining 2 is railroads told us they or their host plan to apply for an extension.
as of september only hundred had do so. of the 12 railroads that said they planned to use substitute criteria, 16v received fra approval. for those who fail to meet the year enrequirement, fra officials said the levying of potential fines is a yet to be made decision and will take into account individual circumstances. given that flying for the extension seems to be the general approach much work will need to be accomplished to achieve final implementation in the final two year window. many need to initiate or complete field testing. today field testing has taken an average of two years to complete. about a quarter told us they encountered software bugs or other problems related to the maturity of the system. almost all railroads share track and therefore must ensure ptc interoperability with at least
one other railroad. amtrak shares track with 21. a number of railroads anticipate enter operatibility challenges particularly in dense areas or where railroads are at different stages of implementation. in turn, the upcoming sunshine submissions will increase fra's workload. in anticipation, fra has allegated some resources but the challenges fra faces will likely extend throughout the final implementation period. fra itself estimates that each safety plan alone can take six months to one near to review. as such it will be important for fra to prioritize resources based on risk. in conclusion, a decade after the tragic rail accident in chatsworth california it remains an open question whether railroads and fra are poised to complete the remaining work and overcome the ongoing challenges facing them to achieve full implementation by 2020.
mr. chairman this concludes my statement. i would be pleased to answer questions you or others may have. >> thank you ms. fleming. mr. corbett. >> thank you. good morning chairman, ranking member and members of the committee. thank you for the opportunity to speak on the ptc implementation program. new jersey transit is the nation's largest state white public transportation system. we provide more than 944,000 weekday trips on the 5 is bus rights, three right rail lines, 12 commuter rail lines and transit services. the positive train control challenges that new jersey transit faces today were years in the making. to be blunt they reflect years of inattentiveness to blemting ptc. let me be clear, the single most goal we have is to meet our federal requirements by december 3 ist. we are fully and absolutely committed to doing everything
possible in order to meet that deadline. what i found in february was that serve years lapsed since new jersey transit awarded funding. they entered into a contract in 2011 with equipment installation to be finished by 2015. up until 2014 new jersey transit had a single full-time employee assigned to ptc. from 2014 to 2016 there were only four employees assigned full time to the project. this was not nearly enough to meet a mission critical federal deadline. when i came to new jersey transit the program was at 12% completion. i am pleased to report in the past seven months we have turned that around and achieved real progress. war now over 70% complete towards meeting the december 31st, 2018 to call if i for an alternative schedule under the ptc law. for that i would also want to thank mr. batory and his staff at the federal railway
administration for their technical help and guidance. that said we are fighting a legacy starting out the year being far behind implementation of ptc. meanwhile we also face challenges of contractor capacity, availability of the materials and supplies. challenges that affect many other railroads across the country. we are challenged by a shortage of locomotive engineers. this problem developed over the same years from 2011 to 2017. engineers are critical to making the equipment moves needed in the ptc mission. we run nearly 700 trains each week. times of challenge are a great opportunity. although we will not receive full implementation until the ends of 20 to we are working diligently to qualify for the alternative schedule. we are working to install all necessary ptc equipment by the ends of this year. training all necessary employees this year and completing substantial field and other
testing. the tests are laying the ground work for beginning revenue service demonstration. as of sunday, september 30th we now have 160 locomotives and cab cars ptc equipped. we 80% of hardware installed or the railroad's right-of-ways and trained technicians and others who need to be ptc trained. achieving this required increasing the labor force to making difficult rail service adjustments so that locomotives and cab cars are available for ptv equipment installation. the results have been we have kplushed more in the last seven months than in the previous seven years. this is much, much more to do. failure to meet our required number by december 3 ist is simply not an option. make no mistake we are aware of the serious sequences to new jersey transit if we do not meet these goals, including fines and our ability to operate on the northeast corridor. we have made and continue to
make significant changes to service to allow us to meet our federal requirements by the year end. despite disruption to the lives of our demurs and commuters. so far we have reduced rail service twice, including the temporary suspension of service on the atlantic city rail line. further reductions go into effect on october 14th. making these kinds of service adjustments is not a decision i take lightly but we have had to take those decisions to ensure we meet our milestones. to sum up, we have made significant progress since the start of the year and are working to meet our december 31st requirements and the 2020 schedule. thank you for the opportunity to discuss these matters with you todays and i will be happy to take your questions. >> thank you mr. corbett. mr. naparstek. >> good morning. i wish to thank chairman thune and ranking member nelson for hosting this discussion on
positive train control. i am scott naparstek. amtrak's chief operating officer. i joined amtrak in 2012 and oversee 17,000 hard working employees with amtrak's operating departments. our work force does a great job and i am proud to represent them at this hearing. today we will provide an update on ptc, on amtrak owned infrom structure, other host inhave structure and operations on our infrom structure. amtrak has been a leader in installation of ptc. we have been operating ptc on the northeast corridor since december 31st 2015. and added the harrisburg line in march of 2016. we are committed to running the safest passenger rail system we can for our customers and employees which requires ptc or quif lanes. first let me discuss the straightforward scenario, amtrak trains operating over amtrak infrastructure.
amtrak plans to be fully ptc ready and compliant by the ends of the year. we are executing an aggressive but realistic plan which enable the imrag route miles to be complete by december 31st of 2018. excuse me. second, i would like to discuss those places where amtrak is a tenant on other host infrastructure. fact, of the 6% of our route miles are over tracks owned and maintained by other railroads. for those tracks we are cooperating with our partner freight and commuter host railroads as they work to complete ptc installations. we are interoperable with five hosts and expect several more before the deadline. although this is dependent on host readiness. we expect segments where the ptc system is not ready for service by year's end. if they meet specific criteria you will apply for an extended schedule. additionally, the fra permits
railroads to seek mainlike track exclusion addendums if the operation meets certain criteria. consistent with our system methodology we are developing risk mitigation areas addressing those areas without a functional ptc system while this development is underway, let me be clear that am traek track's goal is to continue to operate all of our services over all of our current routes on january 1, 20 is the. how we accomplish this will vary across the network based on specifics of each route. at this time we believe we will have strategies in place that will permit continued operations until ptc or equivalency is completed everywhere. third, for those railroads that require an alternative schedule amtrak will work with fra and each railroads on a case by case basis ensuring their continued
safe operations. amtrak's goal is for all our tenants to be operational ptc as soon as possible. however we are aware that disruption of commuteser service when tenants are not ptc ready also has potential safety consequences. amtrak is exploring risk mitigation strategies that could be applied until they are fully operable. amtrak has worked for years to be ready for the upcoming ptc deadline. when 2019 arrives we will have our track, computer training and -- complete. across all the tracks we control. on january 1, to is the we anticipate that 90% our trains across the network will operate with ptc protection along some or all of the routes. we expect the fra to grant the remaining portions an alternative schedule or an mtra. the fra required amtrak we are required to apply for an alternatives schedule since some of our tenants will not be
operational. this alternative schedule will enable us to continue operateding with compliant tenants while the finalized testing of our systems with the systems of our host and tenants. ptc is not a silver bullet and railroads alone cannot cause grade crossing and trespasser accidents. still, we are confident that achieving ptc or ptc equivalent safety will make our railroads the safest railroads in north america. >> well get right into it. ms. fleming as you and mr. batory testified, nine railroads are most at risk for not qualifying for an extension december 31st. can you speak to which are most
at risk of not qualifying for an extension and whose failure to qualify would have the largest impact on commuters. >> there are nine commuter railroads identify as at risk because they have installed less than 90% of their equipment. six of those installed less than 75. they have a lot of work to do. however the size and complex it of the railroads vary. ace is a tenant only railroad. it only has a few locomotives to equipped. my colleague, new jersey transit here has a lot more to do. they are the largest railroad on the list. they are the third largest railroad in the country based on ridership. they have about 122 more locate moec moechbs to equip. they have been able to do about 30 a month at a very accelerated pace so i think it is going to be challenging for them to meet the december deadline. as schedules get more and more
compressed. more impact to service is likely. >> based on all the information you have seen, are you expecting these railroads ultimately to fail to qualify for an extension? >> it is hard to say because some folks can meet their time frame in an accelerated pace. however, they are all vying for the same vendors. there is a limited number of venters. and they have certain criteria to meet in order the qualify for the extension. again not all railroads on the list are as large as new jersey. most of them have just -- more equipment or installation along tracks. new jersey i think has the biggest mountain to climb. >> mr. corps beth i understand new jersey transsit making progress towards ptc implementation every week as you pointed out in your remarks. do you expect new jersey transit to fully install all the hardware on the vehicles by the 2018 deadline and qualify for any extension? >> yes, i do. at least that number.
>> ms. fleming based on gao's review of ptc implementation do you have thoughts or insight you can provide on the feasibility of new jersey transit's plan to complete vehicle installation and qualify for extension? >> i think in the past six months they deserve credit because they have had a fairly accelerated pace. again, they have only been able to do 30 locomotives. they have 122 more to do. they are having to deal with vendor and even engineer shortages. and at the same time, they have to balance ongoing operationing while trying to get all this done. with compressed time frames, i think the likelihood of further service reductions and even cuts is likely. and new jersey, like other railroads, does not currently have a contingency plan. i think that leaves that as a question if they don't meet the december deadline, what does at that mean? i asked my colleague fra because i think we have been trying to get clarity about what is fra's
game plan, if a railroad like new jersey does not meet the december deadline. >> mr. corps beth, if you fail to qualify for an extension to what extent to you expect further services disruptions. >> the disruptions that i alluded to and in a we will be implementing on october 14th. they are painful for our customers. s a a regular commuter myself i certainly can relate to that. but it is an existential threat. we take it that way and we fully be able to make that and make the deadlines. the service cuts are painful, but necessary. >> mr. naparstek, where new jersey transit operates over amtrak owned track does amtrak have any specific contingency plans in place as it relates to njt's qualifying for an extension at the ends of the year. >> they are our tenant and us being the host we will apply for an alternative schedule that by what we have been informed by
the fra will also qualify new jersey transit. we are encouraged by the progress we have seen over the last six months. however we have also worked with new jersey transit on risk mitigation. we have had several meetings and will continue. our plan is to run new jersey transit as safely as possible come january 1, 2019 on our territory. >> mr. batory, could you speak what would happen from a service perspective if a railroad fails to qualify for an extension. for example, would service be expected to cease for the non-compliant railroad and how would pfra enforce any violations? >> thank you mr. chairman. first, let me make this statement. it is a statement of fact. america's railroads are safe today. we have a quarter of a million americans that operate and maintain today's railroads. we dispatch nearly 30,000 train
and engine assignments every 24 hours. now, that represents over 10 million assignments aye year. if you put it in context to the airline industry that flies 16 to 17 million flights, the railroad industry is very safe. now, after i make that statement, one accident is one accident too many. and the railroads that are operating today are required to have ptc in place, will continue to operate in accordance with the rules and regulations set forth before them as well as their timetables their operating rules and their bulletins and their special instructions. there will not be any cessation of service unless that carry why are elects to do it itself. but the fra will not and does not have the ability to impose that type of action after 12/3
1/18. >> how about assessment of penalties? >> when it comes to penalties. this has been a ten-year journey. it's like a soap opera. and we need to bring a conclusion to it and get ptc 1.0 behind us. and when i look at the regulatory fine schedule it is hard for me to rationalize anything less than the maximum fine which is roughly $27,000 a day. if you were to extrapolate that on an annualized basis it would represent $9 million or $10 million. hopefully nobody is going to run the clock out that far. hopefully nobody is going to get passed 12/31/18. if they do, i would reasonable we pass something i refer to as full retail. >> mr. nelson. >> sir, i think trains are safe. just like i think airplanes are
safe. and i ride on both. a lot. but since positive train control has been such an agonizing thing for us to get the railroads to complete, have we not seen accidents that would have been prevented had there been ptc? >> yes, senator nelson, there have been some accidents that could have been ptc preventable. that is correct. the one that unfortunately involved the train between your home state and new york city that happened in casey, south carolina, was, by the strictest interpretation, and it's hard for me to say this, but it was not ptc preventable, because the system -- the signal system that
was in place was approved to be temporarily abandoned. rather than installing a signal suspension system. that set up the stage for a human error that allowed a head-on collision. >> had ptc been in effect on that or on the one that happened between here and new york, would that have saved that collision? >> it definitely would have, yes, sir. >> mr. naparstek, what is the status of ptc implementation of amtrak in florida? at this point in florida we are working with our host. we will be ptc ready. we believe our host will be granted an alternative schedule. and then when they are ready for interoperability testing, as
soon as they are ready, we will be able to test with them. >> that means there will be a delay? >> likely be under an alternative schedule for much of the track in florida. >> is that what alternative schedule means? >> yes. >> it is delay. past the deadline of december '18. >> yes. >> do you think that's acceptable for amtrak? >> it is not our preferred which is why what we will be doing -- anywhere that we will be running on january 1, 2019 that has either been provided an exemption under the mta provisions of the fra or an alternative schedule, we will be doing through our own safety management system risk assessment process. we are doing risque cessments today. and we want to raise the bar on safety for those routes. our goal at amtrak will be, over time, that we will have ptc or an equivalent ptc technology
system in place across all our route miles. that will take us more time. but our goal is even where we have exemptions or alternative schedules to fill all ptc to make sure all of our routes have ptc. >> okay. you have just described what seems to me like some breaking news that since a lot of people ride amtrak in florida, that it's going to be beyond december of 2018. so would you give us a date when ptc is going to be implemented? >> i would have to get back to you, senator. i really need to check with the host railroads as to when they would be ready. >> you called it an alternative schedule. what is that schedule? >> it is a -- unchnly, the host railroad for us, the host
railroad applies for the alternative schedule in florida. we then go under that. >> so is it their fault? is that -- is amtrak held hostage to the host railroad? and in this case, who is the host railroad? >> there is at least two different florida railroads involved. >> name them. >> one would be sun rail. and i would have to get back to you with the second to be honest. it escapes me at the moment. but essentially, they are ready to -- when they have installed the way side, and when they are ready to test with us and our locomotives. essentially our role for being able to run on another railroad's ptc system is to have our locomotives ready. and we will have our locomotives ready. we have to wait for their system to be able to kplukt with our
locomotives. >> senator, the railroads you wanted, sun rail, csx and norfolk southern. those are the three. >> there is trirail as well. >> trirail. >> trirail is in south florida. trirail runs between west palm and miami. sun rail runs to orlando, north and south of orlando. and also you said csx. >> yes. >> and who was the fourth one? >> norfolk southern. >> to clarify, csx will be ready in two weeks for us to begin testing with them. so we should have no problem on csx territory. it's really sun rail and trirail for us that we would be running under alternative schedule. >> so i would like if you would submit for the record please the number of passengers that travel daily on trirail and sun rail.
and i think those passengers should be fully aware that ptc has not been implemented. and also, i think that they need to have an idea of your, quote, alternative schedule of when it is going to be implemente edimp. i think that's the least that we can do to inform the citizens. and i am just talking about my state. i'm sure other senators have got situations -- particularly senator blumenthal in the very heavily traveled northeast corridor. mr. corbett, in your testimony you stated that seven years had elapsed since new jersey transit awarded a contract. and then up until 2014, the
agency had only one full-time person assigned to ptc. i know you said you started later. but give me your opinion. how is this possible? >> senator, i don't like to speculate on what motivate people or contractors to do work or not do work. all i can say is that, you know, i assume that they did not take the extension threat that i took in coming in ends of february as seriously. maybe they thought the deadline would move, whatever. but i have not -- i don't look back on what made the decisions i looked at the situation i arrived in and what i needed to do to pick it. >> i think what you are saying is if it had been a higher priority in new jersey, that it would have been gotten completed quicker. >> absolutely. >> okay. thanks. >> thank you senator nelson.
senator blumenthal. >> thank you, mr. chairman. a number of us on this side, and others on the republican side as well have been staunch advocates over many years for ptc. and i particularly want to commend my colleagues, senators nelson and klobuchar. avsly, ptc technology is not a cure-all. it's not a panacea. we have also worked on issues like rail crossings, an area that senator klobuchar in particular has worked on. and there is still a lot more work to do on all of these areas of rail safety. before i ask about ptc i want to focus, mr. batory, on gateway. which in many vpts as important to rail safety as any other -- respects is as important to rail safety as any other issue facing
us. there is still no final eis and record of decision for the gateway tunnel project. can you commit to us when they will be done? >> thank you for that question, senator. being nearly a 20-year resident of new jersey i am very familiar with the northeast corridor and many of the projects termed gateway. naturally, when i was confirmed, my interest was stimulated to learn more about where we were with gateway. in particular, the more profiled infrastructure subjects of portal bridge and then the hudson tunnel. in -- through my learning experience of the facts that i asked for -- and i just want to characterize it. when it's -- the portal bridge, which is a $1.6 billion project,
from the time the eis was announced until it was finalized, took two and a half years. there was a modification. >> mr. batory, i want to apologize to you. becauseyou. i only have five minutes. >> yes, sir. >> i would like a commitment as to when the final eis and record of decision for the gateway project may be done. this is an issue of national importance. i'm the only member of the northeast region here, i appreciate that you're a resident of new jersey. if you can't commit to me now, i would like to ask you to put it in writing to us. >> we currently consumed 28 months legal consistency behind us, and we're in the final chapters of reaching eis. >> does that mean it will be done by the end of the year? >> i think you would see something forthcoming during maybe first or second quarter of next year. >> that's a long time and very
vague answer. and with all due respect, i'd like a more definite answer if that's possible for you. again very respectfully i realize that you personally can't produce it alone, but it is an issue of vital national importance. >> i respect that question, and we will get you an answer. >> thank you. >> i'd like to ask you mois fleming, you said that you're still awaiting in your words, clarity. from the fra, as to what they will do if the dead lines are not met. he would impose the maximum fine i think, or was inclined to impose the maximum fine of $27 a day. does that include clarity? what else would you like to know from? >> no, there's obviously advantages and disadvantages to
instituting fines, and that's within fra's per view. >> can you turn on your -- >> sorry. i think railroads are looking for clarity about most tenant relationships, that's a big issue for amtrak and others. what will happen if the rail doesn't meet the deadline or qualify. they're looking for some understanding of how fra and we are -- we made a recommendation, how they will handle the work load, there's a lot of things that will coming to them in the near months for it to meet the deadline, extension substitute, criteria testing. the next couple years, they're going to be getting safety plans, they're stretched like everyone else. some railroads said that we're pretty far along, but we're going to apply for an extension because we feel that there's going to be some back and forth with fra and delay. because of everything they have to do. they have to work with the railroads that are in the early
stages, trying to get them to move the pendulum, and while they're also reviewing all these documents, some of these documents are 5,000 pages it's taken fra 6 months to a year to review the safety plan. we think they should hit a pause button and put down pen to paper and put down some way to target their resources and what are their risk highest priorities. i think those are the types of things we're looking for clarity. >> i think that the nation deserves clarity. and i appreciate your hard work and the hard work of the railroads that are meeting the deadlines, and who are devoting the resources and attention necessary to meet this december 2018 deadline, which itself is an extension of past deadlines. so any further delay seems unacceptable, thanks, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator blumenthal. senator fisher. >> thank you, mr. chairman,
administrator batori, earlier this year, the railroad considered not meeting the requirements for that extension. what changes took place at those three railroads that moved them out of that at risk category. and are there any lessons to be learned from those three railroads that could be applied to the other nine? >> the primary contributor to getting the three railroads off were senator -- equipment instillation, wayside as well as on board locomotive equipment where they're behind the curve. >> part of this was contributed as far as the network of to be compliant railroads having a small boutique supply community to draw from, and as a result,
when you find out that nearly 50% of the to be compliant railroads does not engage a supplier until 2015, you can imagine the demand that they put on that boutique supply industry. so that's how i would categorize the three that got eradicated. i know we're pressed for time, but i'll share with you the remaining nine that we do have are basically in california, texas, florida and the northeast corridor. and one is already getting a temporary exception. and then based on what we're learning daily from these railroads, i'm of the belief that we slu see further decrease of railroads at risk after third quarter results come out. >> when you say what we're learning from these railroads, are you encouraging railroads to
try to innovate? is the fra supportive of railroads so that they can seek to develop their ptc systems for further safety and operational benefits? >> we are definitely an advocate, in so far as further innovation, and building upon and exploiting the value of ptc 1.0. we've got to get the first platform in place. there's a lot of enthusiasm, energy to take this technology even further. but before we take that second step we have to finish the first step that we've initiated. >> do you see opportunities for the second step for railroads to be able to innovate new ideas on their own as long as the fra as able to validate that those ideas do conform to the regulations? >> yes. and -- >> it's not a cookie cutter existence going-forward, maybe?
>> it's not a cookie cutter, and the other thing we're cautious about is giving guidance and input from the collaboration of all of us, the railroads, government, as well as the supply industry, so that we can exploit the benefits of ptc, and keeping in mind one concern is that technology moves faster than the ink will dry. the last thing we need to do is start regulatory proceedings on technology as far as advancement, otherwise, we're going to suffocate technology in the railroad industry. >> the fra has to review and also issue a decision on the railroads request for an alternative schedule within 90 days. how does the fra plan to review and make decisions on the alternative schedule applications that are received either close to or on the december 31st deadline? >> right now, we have an
inventory we're maintaining with all the to be compliant railroads. and the alternative schedules at this juncture, we have 8 already in our possession. we expect probably somewhere in the vicinity of 4 to 5 this month. november -- i can't recall the exact number, we have commitment through december, that we're going to have 32. and we're seeking commitment from the balance and talking to them. as far as the process, we have 90 days, from the time in which we receive them. we're encourage iing nothing noo receive everything on december 31st, because this has a 90 day clock to it. we have 45 days in which to respond to the applicant and 45 days after that to get resolution. that's why we're trying to create a cueing of all the ptc
compliant railroads. so we don't have an undue burden of work load on ourselves, regardless of what we have, i would say this personally, with my own involvement. if you come by the dot buildings this winter, the lights will be on late. >> thank you, administratoadmin. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. >> thank you, chairman thune and ranking member nelson for convening this hearing. positive train ptc technology is an important safety measure for passengers and employees of the trains. mr. naparstick in previous hearing s amtrak has stated, an this is a quote, amtrak's goal is to operate all of our services over all of our current routes come january 1, 2019. i'd like you to clarify if that
means continuing rail service. will amtrak commit publicly to stop pursuing the proposal of replacing the train with buses for the southwest for fiscal year 2019? >> we're well aware of the senate's position as well as the directive that is in the senate's version of the 2019 appropriations act. we plan on rung the southwest chief as is, through fiscal year 2019. and we await the congress's dealing with the southwest chief issue during conference in the spending bill. >> thank you for that commitment, i think it will make many of the senators here at the dias we've worked in a bipartisan way to keep this going. we intended to obviously go well beyond 2019. but i reiterate the need for
amtrak to work with the communities impacted to create a real plan for the future of the southwest chief. amtrak leadership has repeatedly emphasized the need for a significant amount of capital investment for this route. it would be particularly short sided to walk away from the $16 million tiger grant. in light of your commitment to continue rail service between dodge city, kansas and albuquerque. does amtrak plan on releasing the grant intended to make the route safer. >> at this point we would -- we are committed to continuing to work with the stakeholders and to try to find successful resolution. >> and that meanses you'll
release the $3 million match? amtrak will release that? >> we'll continue to have discussion at this point and try to understand the issues. >> you're not -- i ask you to answer the question. i mean, do you -- are you making a commitment to release the $3 million match in order that the $16 million tiger grant can also be released? >>. >> what i'm committing to is to continue to have discussions. >> okay, well, i think you're going to hear more about that from other senators here. >> the administrator, thank you for your discussion yesterday in my office, and i appreciate the efforts of you and your team to ensure that the rail runner in new mexico will continue to operate. as you are aware, amtrak is threatened to severely damage the southwest chief by replacing the trains running from dodge city kansas to albuquerque, new
mexico with buses because of safety concerns. i'm skeptical that buses on highways are a safe option. just this august, we saw a horrendous head on collision involving a bus in new mexico where eight people died among many other serious injuries. do you believe that ptc must be installed on the track segment in question for the southwest chief, even though there are no freight trains operating there? and why should we think that buses would be safer? >> thank you, senator. i can't speak to the economic analysis of a train versus a bus. from a safety -- >> safety, that's what i want you to focus on. >> from a safety perspective. my confidence resides okay on rail passenger, okay? >> it doesn't -- >> do you believe they're safer than buses? >> you don't need a steering wheel, it's on the rail.
and as far as that particular route structure and my familiarization of it, both preand post confirmation, it is a line segment that hosts primarily innercity passengers, mainly going east. just west of layme going to albuquerque, there's a combination of innercity and passenger commuter, and then there's a sparse amount of freight that comes up from belin and albuquerque. ptc was asked for by amtrak for an exception. and it was granted. number of years ago. there was also a request for an extension for new mexico rail runner for ptc because of
economic infusion that they needed for the capital. they put together risk mitigation plan that was endorsed by amtrak? it was endorsed by santa fe, santa fe southern. as a result of those three endorsements, we granted them a temporary exception. >> thank you very much. i really appreciate your intense interest in this. i know you've been out there and toured a lot of the lines and assessed what's going on. so thank you very much. for doing a very good job. thank you. >> thank you. thank you senator udall, senator moran. >> thank you very much, congratulations to you and the ranking member on what i assume will occur later today in the passage of faa reauthorization, a significant victory on behalf of aviation. an indication that congress can get its work done once in a while, it's nice to get the end of the extensions behind us. thank you for your leadership.
>> mr. naverstack it's fortuitous that i get to follow the senator from new mexico, this is an important issue nor for us. your answer was disappointing to me in regard to the $3 million. amtrak will continue to run, operate the line in its current form, through fiscal year 19, i think that's a positive development, something that we were unaware of, and we'll continue to work to see that the legislative efforts that we've undertaken are successful in the conclusion, my understanding is that amtrak is not lobbying against our provision, i would encourage you to continue, i would ask you to confirm that's the case. you're not going to work against us to provide you money to improve the track and operate the rail line. the disappointing part is the $3 million. and it's really the issue that got me interested in this topic, this is the third tiger grant that's been granted.
amtrak has been a partner in all three of those, it originated in kansas, followed by colorado, and in new mexico, in each of those instances, amtrak kept its commitment to provide a portion to co work with us, and the local communities in the states who all put in money, amtrak put in the $3 million for kansas, amtrak put in the $3 million -- and you failed in my view to live up to your word in following through your commitment in that tiger grant application. and i would ask you not a question, but i would ask you to please come up with a more positive answer to this question about $3 million. we do not want to lose the tiger grant money. it would be a disadvantage to amtrak in our ability to find the resources to improve the track line. that $3 million is critical, and amtrak says its interested in working with the partners. i assume that means the railroad, the state of kansas, the state of colorado, the state of new mexico and the
communities along that line. you could improve the ability to work together if you kept your commitment on the $3 million. it really sours in my view, my view of amtrak's good faith would be enhanced if that commitment was kept. let me ask a question about positive train control, the subject of this hearing. your ceo mr. anderson has told members of this committee multiple times amtrak will stop running the trains on any track that does not have ptc fully operational by the end of the year. i assume that means that's not true based upon what you just testified to, because you're going to operate the southwest chief through the fiscal year fy '19. is that a fair summary of what i shall think? >> the route in which the southwest chief operates on is either ptc compliant. will be under alternative
schedule or mta. anywhere it's under an alternative schedule or mta, we will apply the risk mitigation methodology that i mentioned earlier, to do what we can to raise the level, and then our goal will be to become fully ptc compliant or ptc equivalent across the route. if it's an exemptive route, we can look at equivalency as well as compliancy. >> i don't know whether that's a change in amtrak's official position, because i've been unable to determine what that is. it seems to have changed, in the absence of ptc compliance. amtrak will continue to not only operate southwest chief, that line, but other passenger rail service across the country. >> passed december 341st. >> if we run into a situation where route fails to either qualify for an alternative
schedule, be exempt in under the mta or is not ptc compliant. we can't run. federal regulation will prohibit it, however, if we, the route has met the regulation, for either being ptc compliant, being exempted or being under an alternative schedule, we'll run. where we don't have ptc operable as of january '19. we have already begun risk mitigations on the routes we know. and there are many underway. >> it was my understanding of amtrak's position which in my view at least has been said, at least somewhat retracted that if you're not ptc compliant it doesn't matter if there's a waiver, we're not going to operate passenger service, that's not -- you're saying that's not true? >> that statement is not -- that's not our position. >> okay. my time has expired. i hope to stay long enough to continue our conversation, i am pleased to hear what you had to say in response to senator
udall, and i appreciate you clarifying for me, passenger service. we'll work on the $3 million, please. >> we are -- we think continued conversation is very important with all the external stakehold stakeholders, we also think there is a very real and serious financial issue that needs to be addressed. >> understood, thank you. >> thank you, senator moran, i only have one more person that will beat you up on that issue, because it's all said and done. senator blun the is up next. >> thank you, chairman. i understand that your previous answer that all railroads would continue to operate, even if they're not in compliance with a fine up to $27,000 a day. will you make that enter into some kind of consent decree that creates a time line that they have to comply in? what is your -- beyond the fine, what do you anticipate doing to
see that everyone gets in compliance. at this juncture, i have not con tem belated going down that avenue based on the energy and enthusiasm that i've seen in the past year since i've been confirmed among the railroads, including the ones at risk. and assessing fines as we have already been assessing fines, we'll be able to assess more fines if the situation constitutes itself after the first of the year, i think will be enough of an incentive to get this brought to closure. one thing very briefly, i want to share for everybody, in relation to ptc, what i talk about, let's get this thing over with. what i have been able to ascertain through staff -- we do this daily and weekly, okay?
but this is our scorecard, you can't -- it's hard to see. but when you go through this, the class one railroads to bring finality to ptc 1.0, they have another 20% to complete, as far as steps. the commuter agencies which is another group that we look at is hanging right around 40%. amtrak as far as host, not tena tenant. they're right around 70% complete. and they have three different platforms of ptc. two different platforms in michigan, and another on the northeast corridor. all that said is, i see -- beginning to see daylight at the end of the tunnel. but the question is how fast we can get to the end of the tunnel. >> i'm assuming that green is
good on that chart. there seems to be a lot of green there, that's a good thing. >> i deliberately avoided red, and i'm not color-blind. but when we first started this, okay, there was a lot of white. >> so that's why i said, the industry has done a lot of good things, and they should be commended for it. >> do you or anybody else have a view of the liability for either the host or the tenant railroad? >> if you're using a line that's not your line, who has liability if ptc is not working on that line? >> each railroad has its own respective joint facility agreements with each other, and there's numerous provisions in liability. and it is going to be how the parties address ptc in those respective agreements.
liability is already outlined in all those joint facility agreements nationwide among the railroads. you will not find one railroad operating on another railroad on a piece of paper, who's responsible for what? >> those agreements are all -- >> those are all -- those are confidential agreements among those business entities. >> you have no reason to believe that ptc compliance wasn't included in that agreement? >> ptc, even though it's been a 10-year journey, these agreements go back and century old. >> anyone else have any view on that you'd like to share? >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator blunt, senator hasson. >> i want to thank you and the ranking member for having this hearing today. and thank you to all the witnesses for being here. as you know, obstructive sleep apnea was the result of two
separate derailments in 2016 and 2017. more than 200 people were injured and one person died. earlier this year, the chairman of the ntsb said he was mystified by your agency's lack of action on sleep apnea. i wrote you a letter in february on this topic, which you responded to, stating that there was -- and this is a quote from your letter, insufficient data to support a rule making at this time. so how does the ntsb, whose primary job is to provide unbiased safety recommendations, have sufficient information to know that the federal railroad administration should move forward here, get the federal railroad administration doesn't have sufficient data? >> senator, my understanding when the proposed rule making
for sleep apnea was -- if you will, pulled down, it was because there's two other vehicles in place. one is on the threshold of emerging that's going to address holistic manner, the health issues of employees, which would be sleep apnea, diabetic conditions, to avoid diabetic coma. that's going to be in the system safety plan, which covers the passenger sector, which is -- we are currently trying to work through some issues with the states and rail labor. then there's the risk reduction plan, which is primarily for the freight railroads. and that is now in the final stages and should emerge sometime late this year, and early next year, that will address sleep apnea as well as other health issues as a whole? >> that's a somewhat different
answer than the one you provided in your letters? >> i'm glad folks are working on it, when there's clear evidence that the ntsb says really -- requires or calls for action, it would seem to me you guys could deal with the sleep apnea right away. >> and then -- >> and so i will look forward to further conversation about this, but the evidence is really clear that this is something we should be dealing with, and the first letter i got back from you was saying, there's insufficient data, and the ntsb says there is. >> another favorable subset to that, is the fact that many of the entities, both private and public are already addressing those health issues today without regulation. >> i would like to. i would follow up with you on it, it shouldn't be up to private carriers to decide whether they're going to screen
or test employees for this, this is a real safety issue. and i think it needs to be treated with a level of urgency by your administration, so i will follow up with you on that. all right? >> thank you. >> i do have another question. and it goes to ptc. you talked a little bit about this. in reviewing the federal railroad administration's positive train control dashboard online, it's clear there's a huge disparity between rail companies that have complied with the positive train control deadline and those who haven't. in tracking this information, has the fra unveiled any trends that will help us implement this life saving technology, seems to be easier for some railroads and more difficult for others? >> from my experience in the private sector, also the experience that i've garnered a short time here in washington,
one of the primary contributors and it had nothing to do with the quality of leadership, it was, if you will, the absence of consistent focus leadership, when you look at the commuter agency. there are railroads such as septa and metro link, they have done an outstanding job, there are others, when you look at, it's public record and you see how many times the chair has turned in leadership, you can imagine what happens when you have changing leadership in a rotate i rotating basis. >> is there anything the railroads can do to get us to full implementation fast summer. >> no, i think your support and sponsorship of what you brought through in 2008 and 2015, and leave it up to the private and public sectors to deliver what you expect. >> thank you very much.
thank you, mr. chair. >> thank you. i want to follow up on the line of questioning from senators udall and moran. something i didn't hear the answer to. whether or not you would be lobbying against our efforts in congress to continue work with the southwest chief? was that a yes or a no? >> we're not lobbying against, we're waiting for -- we're waiting for -- >> you're not trying to oppose it or involved in the process to do that? >> no, we've committed to fy '19 running the southwest chief. >> a letter from amtrak to the colfax county commission in new mexico last year ended with this sentence in the last paragraph. the add vancement will not only significantly improve our
infrastructure, but contribute to the economic k3e9tiveness of the united states. do you agree with that asessionment? >> i think we agree that service over the line is important. we've got a financial issue that we'd like to have discussions with stakeholders on. i think what we've proposed all along wasn't the ending of the service, it may be service by different means. >> you're talking about buses, can you tell me what long routes are covered by buses right now? >> around the southwest chief? >> any line in the country. >> i could get back to you with -- >> would you ever consider the northeast corridor being shifted to buses? >> not the -- >> is there any other -- >> probably not, given the number of passengers. >> is there any other long distance route in the country that has shifted to buses? >> i could get back to you with details, we have bus service
along a lot of routes. >> the long distance route, there's no other route that has a bus system? >> truthfully, senator, i'd have to look at the route map. >> the $3 million that were promised to the folks on the southwest chief, what's happened to that money? >> i can't specifically talk to $3 million per say. certainly amtrak like any other organization, especially as we're implementing things like ptc has more than enough needs to exceed the capacity of our resources? >> was that money sets aside? there seems to be a pledge for this money -- >> i can't speak specifically to that $3 million. >> you think it's been spent somewhere else or given back to somebody? >> i any $3 million gets utilizes in several different ways. i don't necessarily think
there's a set aside $3 million as opposed to, is it the $3 million we should be spending right now? and frankly i think the -- our concerns still remains to the financial viability -- we're in a very -- >> don't you think there was a promise made by amtrak? you've had these states spending millions of dollars. and a letter here that says amtrak strongly supports this don't you think this is a reliance on the word of amtrak to fund this effort? >> i can speak to the fact that where our concern gets into -- what will be the soul user over the portion of that rail. 230 route miles, we would be responsible for approximately 50 to 60 million in capital right off for ptc. we would become responsible
for -- i'm going to estimate, these are strictly estimates. another 10, $20 million to bring the state to repair in the long term. these are very real concerns. >> should amtrak. >> we're in a resource situation, but we always have more things to do, as to where is the right place to pace that money. >> do you think amtrak -- is amtrak a national carrier? >> absolutely. >> does it risk, though, becoming just a regional carrier or just an east coast carrier if it decides to shift away from routes like the southwest chief? >> i think as part of our mission, it is our -- it is part of what we should be doing to analyze the routes that we run? it isn't to say we shouldn't be running innercity across the nation, but certainly we should evaluate each route and understand what is best. now, we look at moving forward, we have the fast act
reauthorization coming up, if we really believe at this point that there's any substantial changes to either routes or innercity replacements -- >> you've talked about a reach a resolution, i think a commitment was made by amtrak to states that put millions of dollars into this, through their taxpayers, their taxpayers are paying for amtrak as well as the money they put into this to partner with amtrak. i don't think this has been a fair outcome with amtrak to have withdrawn its support. i hope we can get this resolved in an area of the country, if amtrak is going to be a national carrier, it needs to be a national carrier. >> thank you, senator gardiner. if senator klobuchar asks about the southwest chief, i'll know you're having a bad day. >> thank you very much. no, that wasn't in my plans thank you mr. chairman for holding this hearing, and thanks
to senator nelson as well. as you all know, the service transportation safety board has included positive train control on its most wanted safety list every year from its inception in 1990, until the enactment in 2008. and according to the gal, only 8 passenger railroads anticipate reaching full implementation of ptc by the end of the year. we clearly have work to do here, i know it's important to the people in my state. i will say that the north store commuter line is on track in minnesota to meet 100% of its ptc obligations, but that is not the case as i mentioned for all commuter lines. the nationwide implementation of ptc is a complicated process. mr. naparstick as ptc is phased
in, can consumers find information from amtrak on which are fully operational? >> we certainly can make that information available. especially as we get closer and closer to the deadline. >> we at this point are making judgments based on discussions with the fra and the various hosts and tenants we work with. >> thank you. railroads have expertise in operations and regional g geograp geography, most do not have employees well trained. we talked about this before, in the intricacies of pf tc, including short line railroads in minnesota, they brought this to my attention. this means they're relying on outside experts and consultants to help them meets the ptc deadlines, because of the high demand, some railroads have found difficulty finding ptc
consultants. >> have you found ptc expertise to be a constraint on the railroad's ability to meet their deadlines? >> this continues to be a concern particularly given the limited number of vendors. there are seven vendors out there to help design the systems, software and hardware. and to help conduct testing. you basically have demand exceeding capacity, this has resulted in some rare roads, most recently sharing at a testimony, that they had to wait a year for their equipment to be installed and delivered. these challenges are likely to continue in the future as people move into the testing phase. >> how about certifications obligations. do you think the -- >> yeah, you definitely are going to need to rely on this limited pool boutique for these
important tasks. >> how do you think we can resolve this? >> yeah. >> how do you think snl any ideas? anyone? >> i don't know how we resolve it, i think, quite frankly, i think that's why you see so many rare roads planning to apply for an extension, because of these issues and other issues, and i think that for some of these. particularly those that are in the early stages, quite frankly, 2020 may be difficult for them to meet that deadline. >> what steps is the fra taking to ensure the interoperatability provisions? >> thank you, senator. and that was a -- that's a great question. because what we're concentrating on right now, between -- if you will, 2015 and 123118 has been the prerequisites to get ptc in
place. which is on board equipment. what we call with the freight railroads, 50% or more of their lines, ptc equipped. getting it to work not only for the host, which we've seen a great deal of success. interoperatability is huge. and we just finished taking a read as to how many railroads we would populate this interoperatability issue. it's in excess of 250 railroads. and all sizes. >> we're amalgamating a group of experts that are going to disburse some cells east and west of the mississippi and specialize on the northeast corridor to concentrate on interoperatability. part of the two year window that we have from 1/1/19 through
12/31/20, you have to have interoperatability in place. >> and my last question, and i'm over my time, but i can do it in writing or talk to you later. and that's about just rail crossings. and we have a provision back in the fast act to try to find best practices to mitigate risks. and i wonder if there's been improvement on that. if you could have around answer for 30 seconds here. >> boiling down grade crossing, two things. certainly funding would always help here, the best grade crossing is one that doesn't exist. so where we can provide resources to generic grade crossings that exist out. that is the best solution. the second is where you can't find ways to engineer out. >> thank you, all of you. >> mr. chairman, may i make a
plug. we have a report coming out in november on grade crossings. looking at the factors that affect incidents and accident fatalities, what are some of the best practices out there and the challenges, and how do we move the pendulum a bit better? >> thank you. >> we'll look forward to seeing it. >> thank you, senator klobuchar. >> i want to thank you again and your staff and the ranking member nelson and staff for getting the bill done. it's a very important bill for inthat structure for the united states. in the nexgen and airport if a sill sillties. i wanted to ask the witnesses, there's been some progress by fra and the railroads on improving ptc implementation. i am concerned that about 3/5 of passenger railroads will be seeking an extension deadline.
i'm sure many of you are aware of the incidents that happened in our state in dupont washington when amtrak entered a curve that should have been 30 miles an hour, but it entered it at nearly 80 miles per hour, we lost three lives and injuries of over 80 people. so i know that mr. troy, you said in a in your testimony, there's a lack of urgency among the railroads to expand and get this done. what else do we need to do to make sure that people take this implementation seriously? >>. >> i can't speak to the past, but can i speak to the current. as far as this situation being taken seriously, very no doubt in my mind it's being taken seriously by the entities. part of that is what we've done and what you've done directly
with some of these interestities, at this juncture -- >> you think the urgency is there even though we're seeing a lot of extension seekers? yes, it -- at one time people were cementing information to us that would say i'll have it all done by 12/31/18 or 12/31 swlsh 20. file by 4/15, that has since changed. we have a population of to be compliant railroads, they're submitting aggressive schedules to us, and we're being aggressive with ourselves inning turnly. >> i believe in the technology, i also believe in situational awareness, there's no reason why on this bypass, my understanding is -- and we can ask amtrak about that -- there won't be any run on that defiance until the ptc is fully tested and
operated? >> that is absolutely true, at this point we're projecting to run potentially. and i think wash dot and south transit have played this in spring of '19, we would have tpc fully installed. for amtrak in the state of washington, we are fully operational. >> except for that -- >> we are actually not running that bypass. >> that's my point. and so -- >> we also will requalify all our crews, we're going to -- we've reassessed our entire certification program, and all of the crews in washington will go through the recertification. >> thank you. thank you for that. i really do think obviously, we're so proud of where aviation has been because of implementation of technology, we think this will help here, definitely want -- make sure amtrak is doing good situational aware fls training for those on those lines where you don't have ptc implemented yet. if i could switch over quickly
to the rules on highway rail grade crossings, i was just conferring with the chair. definitely our state is on the pacific. and we are shipping lots of products to the pacific. it makes the increase in volume, so challenging, because we have a lot of grade crossings. i know that fra is going to create a rule requiring states to submit their own highway rail grade crossing plants. what is the status of that rule? >> the finalization is yet to be north coming, it will be a comprehensive and proactive rule with the states to take, if you will, the next steps that can be advantageous to protecting the
public when they're not totally aware of their surroundings and environment near railroad crossings. one thing that was interesting. i'll share with you, is when we first started inventorying grade crossings back in the early to mid 1970s, we had nearly 11,000, 12,000, 12,000 fatalities a year, we're now under 1,000, it's still 1,000 too many. the federal government has contributed nearly $4.6 billion through the federal highway administration to eliminate grade crossings as well as improve grade crossings. we stand on the principles of engineering, education and enforcement. that second e, education lives forever. and that's something that we have to concentrate on, and in so far as engineering, we have to exploit technology and look at other types of technology
that we could overlay on our existing grade crossing protection to make it safer for the general public. >> this is so important. because we do need the model from you about what states should use and this crossing in this instance, the city of lakewood which sits on that line that we're discussing where the incident occurred, they have seven at grade crossings just in their region. it is a lot of challenge for a small -- not small community. it's right where our joint base lewis mccord is, so there's so much activity there, we need to have the leadership of fra and working with all of us to make these improvements, so thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you senator cantwell. >> let me echo the words of senator cantwell. we have had too many fatalities.
we're looking into how to address rail crossings, make them safe, and your thinking on this moving forward. just want to make you aware of that, we'll be following that. >> let me follow up on something, the last conversation, we talked a little bit about spent nuclear fuel and high level of radioactive waste and its shipment across the rail lines. i knead some clarification from you. i understand that the pipeline has identified this spent nuclear fuel and high radioactive waist as a class 7 and not a class 6, is that correct? >> senator, i have to get back with you on that. i'm not in a position to answer with facts. >> here's my concern. my understanding is that if it's a class 7, the ptc technology is not mandatory, that concerns me. if you could verify that for me,
and get back to me, and understand why ptc would not be mandated for shipment of class 7, this high level of radioactive waste? i would like to know that? >> thank you, and i will. >> thank you. mr. naperstick thank you for being here as well. this may have come up, i apologize, i was in another committee hearing, i wasn't able to be here for the full hearing. but in nevada and amtrak's zepher service is very popular for us. there's 84,000 rides a year on the california zephyr. it's incredibly important throughout the state for so many people in our urban and rural areas. i hear about it constantly from state leaders. i guess my question to you is, and i know amtrak doesn't own the track, but what progress has been made on the implementation
of ptc with your class one partners in nevada and through the zephyr line. >> we will be fully operational by 12/31/18. >> that's fantastic. >> by the deadline. >> will there be any changes in service through this process? >> no. >> not at all? >> none at all. >> miss fleming, in the conversation you heard today, is there anything else we should be aware of from your report or anything that's coming out that hasn't been talked about today? >> in terms of grade crossings. ptc, anything that we should be aware of moving forward that hasn't been discussed? >> i think we've hit the big ticket items, for us, it's the concern that the railroads and we share is held -- how the fra is going to manage the existing work loads. i think the testing phase takes a lot longer than railroads assume. our analysis shows it takes 1 to
3 years to get through initial testing where you're in revenue service demonstration. our concern is, you don't want to short change that phase, at the same time, the clock is ticking for a lot of these railroads and putting the pressure on as everyone said. i think those are the big issues we've hilted in our work. >> thank you. >> are you familiar with the x train? >> i have a high level understanding. >> okay. >> i'm just curious if you can talk to me or all of us about -- i appreciate the challenges that you face moving forward, but could you talk to me about what the implementation or compliance with the ptc mandate might have for service like the x train in the future? >> well, for -- it will be between a host and a tenant anywhere the rail requires them to run ptc, would be required to run p can tc.
>> okay. thank you. i know my time is running out. mr. betori. is it betori? for the certifications and waivers, what are you communicating to the railroads as far as time lines they should expect for your safety professionals to review and respond to the documents? >> exceptions and -- let me address exceptions first. >> exceptions is an outgrowth of the statute in the reg. once the reg was developed in 2010, 2011, the preponderance of the exceptions were filed in 2011 and 2012, there are a couple that have been filed in the last couple years to this year, we're up to 50. and they're all permanent other than for the rail runner in new mexico, which is temporary.
as far as waivers, there are no waivers that we have issued. we are reviewing the documentation for alternative scheduling. which could be construed as a waiver that gets you past 12/31/18. we already have a schedule for 32 of the 41 to be compliant railroads as to when their alternative scheduling requests are coming in. we're seeking the remaining nine so that we can then allocate our workforce accordingly and get responses back within that 90 day window? >> thank you. i notice my time is up, thank you so much for being leer today. >> thank you, senator. >> i'd like to thank chairman thune and ranking member nelson for holding this important hearing and today's witnesses for an honest and frank discussion about where we are with ptc implementation. i want to thank amtrak for working so closely with my office to advance the passenger rail crew protection act that
was considered favorably by this committee in august. this bipartisan bill will improve public safety and discourage violence aboard amtrak trains and it's really a common sense effort that i hope we can expand to other commuter operations in the future. i want to thank amtrak for considering the needs of nursing mothers. i was pleasantly surprised when i visited your facility in chicago to find more than one breast-feeding location. as a working mom who often travels on amtrak, it was such a pleasure to see that. included in the faa reauthorization act that is expected to reach the desk's later this week, thanks in part to the chairman's loadership is my friendly airports for mothers act, it requires large and medium hub airports to include clean safe lactation rooms for nursing moms, separate from bathrooms in every terminal.
i can appreciate the airports are not an apples to apples comparison, i hope that amtrak will engage with me to ensure that all major amtrak facilities include appropriate accommodations for breast-feeding women as you have in the chicago station. will you work with me toward this goal? >> absolutely. we look forward to having discussions and to help with the goal. in fact, we have four lactation stations in place today. washington, d.c., philly, baltimore, chicago. a fifth is underway for new york as the renovations continue. it will be placed in during the renovation process. i'd also like to personally thank you for the leadership on the bill which helps protect our crews from assault. it's a bill we've long supported at amtrak and provides another level of safety for our passengers and for our crews. thank you. >> thank you. >> i'm extremely proud of the hard work and tough choices that
our commuter rail system has undertaken to meet its ptc obligations. metro has consistently met its benchmarks despite budget constraints and one of the most complex rail stations in the nation. i recently toured metro's 47th street railcar shop. their skilled workforce is building some of the systems from the ground up, it's amazing to see it in action. i'm concerned that the commuter systems that made tough decisions early on, like metro, investing in ptc which when federal support was not readily available. may be put in a disadvantage. in other parts of the country in order to meet the 2018 and 2020 deadlines. they didn't make the responsible tough choices like our system did in chicago. how would you ensure that federal resources are getting to rail carriers in an appropriate and equitable way so as not to punish those who acted early on
meeting the ptc requirements at the expense of the long term capital plans? >> thank you, senator, and i agree with everything you just shared. i spent an entire day with metro and norm carlson. >> they're great. >> i've known them for a number of years. i thoroughly understand what they along with some other peer commuter agencies have done across the country. they had to recue themselves as far as capital demands and in satisfying what was before them with ptc. if you will, in a very fair impartial nondiscriminatory basis disemanate information all the time to the private and public sector as far as funds that can be available through the federal government. and i know that that has also drawn the attention of metro
management, metro board director leadership. for instance, i'll just talk about state of good repair money. when you have a line segment that metro owns that operates from chicago it fits the criteria. i am encouraged with the intention that they as well as other agencies as well as what has taken place in boston, there is an awareness that you are exactly right. there was money given but we've got to get ptc in, and if money is the issue, let's resolve it. one thing that was enlightening, before i was confirmed and we started hosting these meetings with all of the railroads there were only 2 railroads that came to the door-- came through the
door and said they needed money. one was in california and the other was a new mexico. that's not to say that the other 39 would not have taken a check but those two said that they needed one. but i share everything you said . >> i'm overtime. >> you are right. it's a life-saving technology but it's not free. you mentioned massachusetts which alone has invested over $500 million to implement ptc and $400 million in federal loans. they may have to spend tens of millions more to operate and maintain this technology for decades to come, so while i am proud that i have recently help secure $20 million to help
implement ptc technologies, i'm concerned that commuter rail's may not have-- rails may not have all the tools to create and maintain that system. is there a law for continuing federal assistance investments for technical assistance with ptc technologies to ensure that we are operating and maintaining these technologies effectively mr. administrator? >> thank you, senator. that is a question that does not have an answer and will be answered by individual railroads . with any capital investment, there's a cost that follows.
what is that monitor and how many-- what it how many zeros are after that number? it has been addressed with each individual railroad but as i've said, it's going down an alley and they don't know what the number is.>> what do you think? >> everyone is focusing on the deadline and that being said we've heard from railroads that they are wondering what it's going to take to keep the operations and maintenance of whether there will be federal funds whether the the consent-- >> do you need more money to help you solve this? >> i don't know if-- i don't know a train system that would say they needed-- they didn't need money but i would say as we are coming to the end of the implementation phase and-- is
now when we go to operationalizing-- that's a complex issue.>> mr. naparstek? more federal money?>> i would agree. there's always a trade-off and when you look at ptc my operating costs, and i look at my budget for the upcoming year i had to increase my operating cart-- my operating costs. and i have to ask for more money . >> implemented by december 31 of this year, we did grant the federal railroad administration the authority to give commuter railroad-- rail lines a two- year extension if they demonstrate sufficient progress. that is install the hardware, field testing and employee training. i'm pleased that the and tba-- that they are-- the mtba has
met the deadline. but i feel like the fra may not have resources needed to process the volumes of plans and documents and thousands of papers in a timely manner. are you confident the fra will be able to process this so that no air-- that no line is deprived of untimely review and approval? and if they are not granted the extension, they could have to halt service altogether to avoid extensive fines and leaving passengers stranded. can you give us some assurances for those systems that are moving fast toward meeting the deadline? >> more so on quality. it is a learning experience every day when you get your
first document and understand what the labor is task is and what you have to do to be more efficient going forward. >> based on what i know today and what i have planned, i am confident. >> thank you senator. markey. >> i think that we have exhausted the number of questions. i suspect questions that you can take for the record and i do appreciate all of you. thank you for your responses and for being here today and giving us a timely and needed update on where we are with respect to implementation. that's an issue that has enormous implications for transportation for this country. as you receive those responses, get them back as soon as
terrorist attacks. the challenge is when someone is inside a building. apco has been championing this location. if someone is behind an apartment door or an office suite, 911 needs to know where to spend-- where to send responders and that's a tough technological challenge. in 2015 the secretary adopted an order which is groundbreaking. for the first time it was applying requirements on the carriers, and the deterrent-- to determine a colors location and followed a lengthy negotiation that apco did joined by the national emergency number association where we negotiated with the 4 major carriers and representative industries that came up with a plan and called it a roadmap. the fcc basically adopted it.
>> i want to see the democrats control the congress and senate. i think that is long overdue to remove trump. he seems to be getting dementia and possibly worse. he seems very erratic, and dangerous for the country. that's why i want to see the democrats take over. >> katrina pierson joined a discussion on a range of topics hosted by the women for trump in washington dc. this is one hour. >>