Today, The New York Times printed a co-authored (well, let's just say respective Staff Writers) Op-Ed between Matt Rose, Executive Chairman of BNSF and Andrew Leviris, the CEO of Dow Chemical. This piece, obviously favoring an extension of the year end "sudden death', is interestingly by one guy who ships by rail a lot of stuff than can go 'boom" and the guy who hauls a lot of that stuff:
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/28/opini ... s-why.html
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P.T.C. is the most significant technological innovation in railroading since the diesel engine replaced the steam engine, but it poses an unprecedented challenge. There are numerous, complex steps that need to be taken in order to implement it.
Extremely precise data from train tracks and the locomotive must be integrated and processed to allow advanced hardware to stop a 100-car freight train that is over one mile long, weighs 6,000 tons and travels at 55 miles an hour — in any given location and weather. Each one of these elements must be fine-tuned, precisely aligned and must work with every other railroad’s trains.
Because Congress established the original deadline, only Congress can extend it. So far, this has not happened, and if it doesn’t, railroads and their customers will have to take steps to anticipate the shutdown ahead of the actual deadline expiration. Shutting down railways is not like turning a light off. It is a process that will take time and significant effort. We will need to start removing rail cars, including those that carry cargo necessary for public health and safety.
First the disclaimer: although my "CV" holds eleven years experience within the railroad industry, none of such includes technical aspects.
Positive Train Control, lest we forget, was Congressional reaction to Chatsworth within Rail Safety Improvement Act 2008. It, along with its "tack on" PRIIA 08, was enacted by a Lame Duck administration, who, along with the legislators who passed it, I doubt knew much about the provisions within such. The "old saw" of "you'll have to vote for it to find out what's in it" was certainly applicable here.
What did President Bush care; he was just "kicking the can down the road" to an incoming administration! He's "outta there" before anything within the Act was to be implemented.
With this being said, I think the industry figured "it'll just go away". I think that at the outset, the industry's reaction was, if ever implemented, it would simply cover passenger trains where operated in any volume (the Amtrak "one a day' exempt). If that comes to pass, well that is what T/P's pockets are for (oh and T/P; that's IRSese for Taxpayer). But as the FRA began drafting Regulations representing their interpretation of the Act, it became evident that HAZMAT in practically any volume would be brought in. The industry's "now we believe" moment came when the realization that all lines handling freight above a very low level of volume were within the scope of the Regs.
All told, since Chatsworth, there has been, just off my head, Red Oak, Goodwell, and Frankford Jct - all of which had fatalities and would have been avoided had PTC, as presently defined, been active.
For the industry, freight and passenger, there appears 'no way out" other than to comply; for Congress and the President, there appears to be "no way out" other than to extend.