Introducing the Positive Train Control Amendment
WASHINGTON - This week, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) delievered the following statement in support of the Positive Train Control Amendment, which he offered during the Appropriations Committee markup of the FY 2014 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Bill. After assurances from his colleagues that they will work on the issue together in a bipartisan fashion outside of the appropriations process, Rep. Quigley eventually withdrew the amendment, which was deemed "authorizing language."
Video and a transcript of his full prepared remarks is included below. Please click here if you have difficulty viewing the video.
Mr. Chairman, I rise to offer an amendment in support of an important safety technology for our nation’s rail system – Positive Train Control. Implementing this technology is important to ensure our national rail system provides the utmost of safety for the millions of passengers that use our railroads each year. What is also vitally important is that we make sure that PTC is done the right way to ensure that PTC works safely and efficiently for our commuter and freight railroads. Implementation of Positive Train Control is no small endeavor.
It is important to understand that when Congress passed the Rail Safety Improvement Act in 2008 mandating PTC implementations by 2015, many of the key technology components of PTC had not even been developed or tested yet. As a result, most railroads have yet to develop new systems from scratch. And to date, the railroad industry has already spent nearly $3 billion in their efforts to implement PTC.
But despite their best efforts, significant challenges to implementation remain. The GAO, the CRS and the Federal Railroad Administration have all published reports recognizing that the majority of freight and commuter railroads will not be able to fully implement PTC by the 2015 deadline. The reality is we cannot ensure that PTC implementation is done the right way within those current time constraints. To do so would force commuter railroads like Metra in Chicago to choose between performing critical system safety projects now and implementing this unfunded mandate.
If we’re not going to appropriate money to the commuter railroads to help alleviate the burden of this unfunded mandate, the least we can do is give these railroads the additional time required for full implementation. My amendment ensures proper implementation of PTC by providing a three year extension to the current deadline to give railroads the time they need to finish the job they’ve already started.
Because railroads still have doubted their ability to implement by 2018, my amendment gives the Secretary of Transportation the power to grant two additional one-year extensions if the railroads can prove due diligence. The amendment also gives the Secretary the power to prove alternate safety technologies that provide the same level of safety because we’ve learned that PTC will not work in certain places around the Country.
Now Mr. Chairman, I recognize in working with yourself and the Chairman, Mr. Latham, that you believe this is authorizing language. And while I respect that, I do also believe that the term authorizing language is in the eyes of the beholder. But I’ll say this: out of respect, I am willing to withdraw this amendment hoping to continue to work with you and Mr. Latham and I also understand that there are many of your colleagues who appreciate that we need to do this. And I’d like to understand your belief on this and what we need to do to go forward, Sir.