Congress and President signed new law that averts rail crisis-Transportation Extension Act of 2015

Congress approved and President Barack Obama signed into law H.R. 3819, the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2015, which  1) extends through November 20, 2015, authority and funding for the Department of Transportation’s surface transportation programs; and (2) extends the deadline for compliance with positive train control system (PTC) implementation by three years, to December 31, 2018. FASA/Gemini had joined the U.S. business community in urging Congress to delay the January 1, 2016 deadline for railroads to install PTC. The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 mandates certain railroads implement PTCs by December 31, 2015, or cease operations until such time PTCs can be installed. A recent U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) study found that “Most railroads in GAO’s review (20 of 29) estimate that they will implement positive train control (PTC)—a communications-based system designed to prevent certain types of train accidents—1 to 5 years after the statutory deadline of December 31, 2015. As a result, if Congress did not extend the deadline, a significant portion of the nation’s rail system would have shut down on January 1, 2016.