Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority Serving Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties

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Positive Train Control Update

Thursday, April 28, 2016

On Monday, April 18th SEPTA opened a new chapter for safety on our Regional Rail system with the launch of the Positive Train Control (PTC) Signal system on the Warminster Line.

Getting to this date took months of preparation and testing. Still, we knew from past experience that even with all of our advanced effort, we wouldn't know if we'd anticipated all of the operational and equipment issues until the system went live for regular revenue service. So it wasn't a surprise that the first 2 days were not totally challenge free, especially in the area of on time performance. Thanks to the attention of our train crews, vehicle and signal personnel and Control Center staff we quickly identified operational and system issues needing adjustment including additional software upgrades that we're currently working to complete. With PTC, by the end of the first service week, the Warminster Line on time performance was nearly back to normal. At this point, we have returned to pre-PTC numbers.

The goal for making this strategic investment was to enhance safety on our Regional Rail system by being able to:

  • Regulate train separation
  • Avoid train-to-train collisions at track crossover locations
  • Enforce line speed continuously including temporary speed restrictions
  • Protect rail worker wayside safety zones
  • Regulate grade crossings that are out of service
  • Prevent a train from running over a mainline switch set in the wrong position

Within the first 2 days of operation, we saw the benefits of PTC when a truck struck the grade crossing gate at Old York Road near Willow Grove Station and we were able to use the PTC system to protect the out of service grade crossing equipment.

While we continue to monitor PTC on the Warminster Line we are advancing our plans to launch this new safety system on SEPTA Regional Rail including those Lines that operate on Amtrak Territory. We will keep you updated on our progress and we are excited to bring this safety innovation to our service and our riders.