Just the Facts: Legislation to Keep America's Railroads Open

October 27, 2015

As Passed in the House of Representatives (H.R. 3819)

Revised Plans Submitted to Department of Transportation (DOT).  Not later than 90 days after enactment, all railroads required to implement PTC must submit revised implementation plans showing full PTC compliance as soon as practicable.
Milestones and Metrics. The revised plan must include annual milestones and metrics for hardware installation, spectrum acquisition, and employee training, and a sequence and schedule for full implementation of PTC.

Enforcement.  The Secretary enforces with fines and penalties to ensure compliance with those milestones and metrics and continued progress toward full implementation.
December 31, 2018 Deadline.  Railroads must implement PTC by December 31, 2018, unless the Secretary, on a case-by-case basis, grants additional time for testing and certification.
Case-by-Case Time for Testing. The Secretary, on a case-by-case basis, may grant additional time only if by December 31, 2018:

- The railroad has completed installation of all hardware required for full implementation, spectrum acquisition, and employee training;
- For large Class I freight carriers and Amtrak, the railroad must be using PTC on a majority of its track. For all others, the railroad must be using PTC on at least one territory or meet other criteria set by the Secretary; and
- The railroad’s final implementation date shows progress toward finishing testing and certification as soon as practicable, with a hard cap for full implementation of up to 24 months.

Objective Review. Each railroad needing more time for testing following the December 31, 2018 deadline shall notify DOT when it has completed all of the steps and is ready for Secretarial review.  Each approval is dependent upon objective, measurable actions described above toward full implementation.
DOT Authority to Change Plans. DOT can determine whether the request for more time is ‘deficient’ – for example, if a railroad is asking for too long of an extension, based on objective milestones and metrics – and require revisions prior to approval.
Progress Reports.  All railroads must report annually on progress against their overall revised plans, and those progress reports will be made public. DOT is also required to continually review and report to the public and Congress on the railroads’ progress. The Secretary will use these progress reports to issue fines and penalties, as appropriate, on any railroad that is not complying with its milestones and metrics.