Large portions of the American rail network will be forced to shut down at year's end without Congressional action to extend the deadline for the rail industry to fully implement Positive Train Control (PTC), which is a GPS-based train control system designed to prevent collisions and over-speed derailments.

Congress mandated that freight railroad lines carrying certain "toxic by inhalation" (TIH) materials, including anhydrous ammonia, passenger railroads, and commuter railroads implement PTC by Dec. 31, 2015. However, most freight and commuter railroads have reported they will not be able to meet the deadline, and require more time to complete implementation.

Recently, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study on the issue confirmed that railroads have faced a number of challenges in implementing the complex technology, and most will not be able to meet the deadline. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) recently introduced legislation referred as "The Positive Train Control Enforcement and Implementation Act of 2015" (HR 3651) that extends the deadline to fully implement the technology to December 31, 2018, provides limited authority for the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary to extends the deadline beyond 2018 if railroads demostrate they are facing continued difficulties in completing the mandate but made every effort to do so.

The Agricultural Retailers Association is urging the industry to urge Congress to act expeditiously to pass HR 3651 to avert a potentially catastrophic shut down of the American rail network!  Impacts will begin to be felt well in advance of the December deadline as railroads and customers sonn begin preparations for that process.   

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