The Business Side of Positive Train Control

By OPW | May 28, 2019

Driver assistance technology is taking over roadways, helping to monitor blind spots, employ brakes and prevent collisions. A similar technology, Positive Train Control (PTC), is slated to create similar benefits for rail cars, stopping trains before accidents can occur. Though it is easy to understand the positives of such an asset, the undertaking to get the system up and running is quite complex.

When Congress mandated PTC systems as part of its Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA), each railroad has been required to develop a network of components from scratch to work across freight, passenger and commuter railroads. These networks are intended to address the most common causes of accidents (track, equipment and human error) to avoid train-on-train collisions.

Per the Association of American Railroads, 100% of locomotives have been equipped, and 100% of railroad employees have been trained in PTC as of December 31, 2018. This is good news for safety, but it might create some stress on rail car suppliers, lessors and shippers.

Source: Association of American Railroads

A more efficient, accident-free railway system is ideal for everyone, but this shift has come with a focus on reducing costs, including fuel, labor and investments in rail cars. The need and demand for rail cars is bound to change as railroads move to lighten their stockpile of cars. It is possible that this shift is insignificant, however those selling or utilizing rail cars would be wise to stay alert.

On top of efforts like PTC, railway equipment manufacturers are working with industry organizations to further reduce rail car incidents and their potential impact. For example, Midland and the Railway Supply Institute have collaborated on tank car products, like the Smart-Flow Pressure Relief Valve and A-212 Vacuum Relief Valve, that effectively limit non-accidental releases (NARs) of hazardous materials.

Delivering What’s Next in Railway Expertise

Midland’s knowledge of railroad performance expands far beyond crafting effective products for rail tank cars. The insight of our experts allows us to provide emergency response education, compliance assistance and relevant industry updates to further support our customers. Our goal is to keep rail tank cars safe and profitable. 

You can learn more about Midland’s rail-transportation solutions at