Washington, D.C. — The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) awarded $203,698,298 in grant funding for 28 projects in 15 states to assist with the deployment of positive train control (PTC) systems.
“These $200 million in grants will help the railroads continue to implement positive train control, a technology that could help reduce accidents and save lives,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
FRA is making awards to 28 projects for a total of $203 million of the $250 million specifically appropriated under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 for the implementation of PTC systems, via the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program. A Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for $250 million in PTC Systems Grants was issued in May, and applications under that solicitation were due on July 2.
In an effort to assist railroads as they work towards fulfilling the Congressional PTC mandate, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) focused its resources on releasing these important funds in an expeditious manner. The application review and selection process was completed in 49 days, in order to award these funds in advance of the December 31, 2018 deadline.
In addition, FRA expects in the coming days to issue a second NOFO soliciting applications for PTC systems deployment projects based on the balance of the $250 million that remained after today’s awards were announced. Applications for the $46,301,702 under this second solicitation will be due 30 days after the NOFO is published in the Federal Register.
“It was our goal to award today’s grants as quickly as possible to help the recipients implement PTC,” said FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory. “We also encourage eligible applicants to apply for the remaining balance of the PTC CRISI grants after that NOFO is published.”
The list of awards for the $203.7 million in grant funding is below. The awards fund many aspects of PTC system implementation for intercity passenger or commuter rail and freight rail transportation including: back office PTC systems; wayside, communications, and onboard PTC system equipment; personnel training; PTC system testing; and interoperability.
In 2008, Congress mandated implementation of PTC systems on the main lines of Class I railroads and entities providing regularly scheduled intercity or commuter rail passenger transportation over which any poison- or toxic-by-inhalation hazardous materials are transported, or over which intercity or commuter rail passenger transportation is regularly provided. In October 2015, Congress extended the original PTC system implementation deadline from December 31, 2015, to December 31, 2018. In addition, Congress requires FRA to approve a railroad’s request for an “alternative schedule” with a deadline for full implementation beyond December 31, 2018, but not later than December 31, 2020, if the railroad demonstrates it has met the congressionally mandated criteria for an alternative schedule.
Under the CRISI Program, at least 25 percent of funds are available for rural projects. Federal funds awarded for CRISI grants must not exceed 80 percent of the total cost of a project, and the required 20 percent non-federal share may be composed of public sector (state or local) or private-sector funding, or both.
In making the selection decisions for the PTC grants, the factors that FRA considered included supporting economic vitality; leveraging federal funding; using innovative approaches to improve safety and expedite project delivery; and holding grant recipients accountable for achieving specific, measurable outcomes. Preference was given to projects proposing at least a 50 percent match and that maximize the net benefits of the grant funds.
FRA anticipates reimbursing recipients for otherwise eligible costs incurred as early as today’s date for those purposes deemed to fall within a categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). FRA does not want recipients to delay costs necessary for PTC system deployment. Selected recipients will be contacted by their FRA Regional Manager to discuss the reimbursement of costs incurred in advance of grant execution.
More about PTC systems can be found at www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0358.