House Energy and Commerce, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Leaders Request Updates From FCC on Deployment of Railway Safety Technology

August 8, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – Leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee today wrote to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn regarding a provision in the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA) that requires the installation of positive train control (PTC) throughout the country by the end of 2015. Implementation of the complex technology, on the scale required by RSIA, has never been attempted anywhere in the world and will require the deployment of as many as 22,000 rail-side antennas. The committee leaders are concerned that federal environmental and historic review processes for the installation of the antennas add another impediment to meeting the 2015 PTC installation mandate.

“Apparently recognizing that the FCC’s processes cannot accommodate the railroads’ statutorily mandated PTC implementation schedule, the FCC staff has advised the railroads not to proceed with any applications for environmental and historic review until an approach for expediting the notification and review processes can be determined. Accordingly, PTC antenna installation activities by the railroads have been essentially put on hold until the FCC staff advises the railroads that they can start again,” wrote Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), and Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Chairman Jeff Denham (R-CA).

The leaders continued, “The delay caused by this freeze and the FCC’s environmental and historic review processes adversely affects the railroads’ ability to deploy PTC and delays implementation of safety systems mandated by Congress. … We urge the FCC to move expeditiously to put a process in place to facilitate the timely deployment of PTC...”

The leaders requested periodic updates from the Acting Chairwoman Clyburn or her staff regarding the commission’s involvement with PTC implementation.

To read the full letter, click here.

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