UPCOMING: Like rock ‘n roll, Positive Train Control (PTC) is here to stay. Now activity is afoot to fine tune PTC’s application and effect in two important respects.

There is no question about its future in that regard since the notice of final rule on January 15, 2010 (available here) and clarifying amendments September 27, 2010 (available here).

First, the Association of American Railroads has applied to the Federal Railroad Administration to make some adjustments existing regulations pertaining to PTC’s application. (available here).

Second, the National Transportation Safety Board has taken a major initiatives this past week to promote and refine PTC: 

A February 27 forum on PTC – “Forum: Positive Train Control: Is it On Track?”. This will include one presentation among multiple experts to look back to evaluate PTC implementation to date and two similar panels to evaluate future challenges to PTC implementation. Announcement available here.

Live streaming of the webcast available here the day of the meeting and archived thereafter.

Legal doctrine take-away: 

The regulations are unchanged, subject to modifications that might emerge from the AAR’s efforts to fine-tune the original PTC rules in specific situations.

Practical business take-away: 

As investments in capital equipment and track infrastructure are anticipated for the future, PTC as an element of planning is a new and prominent safety factor.