In January 2016, Metra filed an alternative schedule for implementing PTC by 2020.
- Installed all PTC equipment
- Acquired all necessary radio spectrum
- Trained all necessary personnel
- Initiated revenue service PTC demonstration on one line (Rock Island Line)
PTC and Funding
Nationally, the cost to carry out the PTC mandate is estimated to exceed $10 billion, including $3.48 billion for commuter railroads. PTC implementation is expected to cost Metra more than $400 million.
To date, Metra has spent $255 million in capital funding on PTC . Metra has received two federal grants totaling $43 million to assist with its PTC efforts, but it must cover the remaining costs with its already inadequate capital funding sources.
Metra is responsible for installing PTC on all trains and along the five lines it controls – Metra Electric, Milwaukee North, Milwaukee West, Rock Island and SouthWest Service.
For the six other Metra lines owned by private railroads – BNSF, Union Pacific and CN – Metra is contributing a share of PTC installation costs.
The efforts of Metra and other railroads working to implement PTC have been affected by a number of challenges, including:
- Expense: PTC implementation is expected to cost Metra more than $400 million, equal to the amount of federal funding Metra receives every 2½ years. And, PTC is expected to add $15 million to $20 million a year to Metra’s operating costs.
- Interoperability: PTC systems adopted by various railroads must be able to communicate with each other so that trains can move seamlessly between tracks controlled by different systems. Achieving PTC interoperability in Chicago will be especially complicated, since the region has the most complex railroad network in the country.
- Technology availability: PTC technology had to be developed, so off-the-shelf systems could not be purchased and certain components have only recently become available.
- Bandwidth availability: To support PTC-related transmissions, railroads must secure sufficient radio spectrum bandwidth from existing license holders.
Once PTC is installed, our system will be in full compliance with the federal mandate and feature the latest, state-of-the-art technology to ensure the safety of our passengers.