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Coronavirus information
First Published - 06/07/2020 - 2:04PM

Metra trains are operating on alternate weekday and weekend schedules posted here, with no weekend service on the North Central Service, Southwest Service, Heritage Corridor and the Blue Island Branch of the Metra Electric Line. For all other information relating to Metra's response to the pandemic, click here.

Last Updated - 08/10/2020 - 12:04PM

Positive Train Control (PTC)

POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL  Positive Train Control (PTC) is a computerized system that prevents certain types of train-to-train collisions, helps avoid derailments and other accidents caused by excessive speed and increases safety for railroad workers. The system integrates GPS, wayside sensors and communications units with Metra’s centralized office dispatching system. Together, these components track trains, convey operating instructions and monitor the crew’s compliance. PTC will automatically stop a train if the system detects that a violation or equipment failure is about to occur.
Watch the video below for a primer on Positive Train Control and Metra's efforts to install it.


Watch the video below for an explanation about why the Metra Electric Line schedule is being changed to accomodate PTC.

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 about $400 million.

To date, Metra has spent  more than $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.

Implementation Plan

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. Metra is on track to complete implementation by the end of this year, meeting the legislative deadline.

PTC components have already been installed on all Metra locomotives and switch engines, cab cars used on our diesel lines and Highliner cars used on the Metra Electric.  Wayside towers were installed at 219 locations to communicate with Metra rolling stock and with Metra’s centralized office dispatching system.

For the six other Metra lines owned by private railroads – BNSF, Union Pacific and CN – Metra is contributing a share of PTC installation costs.

Key Challenges

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 about $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.

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