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Connecticut DOT Announces Major Safety Milestone Achieved for Passenger Rail Service; Positive Train Control Now Operational on Metro-North and CTrail Shore Line East and Hartford Lines

The Connecticut Department of Transportation is announcing the successful implementation and activation of Positive Train Control (PTC) on Metro-North and CTrail Shore Line East (SLE) and Hartford Lines.

PTC is an automated safety technology designed specifically to detect rail car operational conflicts and intervene with affirmative action, to prevent incidents which could result in injuries. Despite challenges associated with COVID -19 and complex engineering and technological dynamics, completion of the federally mandated initiative occurred before the December 31, 2020, deadline.

“Passenger rail service is extraordinarily safe. With PTC implementation, it’s now safer than ever, with automatic safeguards in place to prevent incidents that particularly can be associated with human error," said DOT Commissioner Joe Giulietti. "I am thankful for the amazing work performed by our CTDOT team, our colleagues at Metro-North, as well as our friends at AMTRAK, for staying the course and achieving such an incredible outcome under these circumstances.” 

Utilizing PTC, Metro-North, SLE and Hartford Line trains now automatically communicate in real-time with central dispatching offices – sharing information on train position, speed and the actions of the locomotive engineers. If the system detects abnormalities such as a train traveling too fast, or a conflict between trains, PTC will automatically intervene, reducing a train’s speed, or stopping a train, all while alerting the engineer and keeping passengers safe.

“Metro-North trains are now operating more safely than ever before,” said Catherine Rinaldi, President of MTA Metro-North Railroad. “Safety is the core value of Metro-North and we were glad to have been able to work with our partners in Connecticut to establish this system in accordance with the timetable laid forth in the federal regulations.”

PTC utilizes a network of track transponders spaced every one to two miles, as well as various technology components and appurtenances installed in trains and dispatching offices, which also aides in reducing risks for rail employee crews working on the tracks.

“We are proud to have supported Commissioner Giulietti and his team on this essential step to further improving the safety of rail travel. Completing PTC installation and implementation is a key component of Amtrak’s overarching commitment to safety, for our operations on Metro-North and CTrail Shore Line East (SLE) and Hartford Lines and nationwide,” said Amtrak President Stephen Gardner. “We are pleased that CTDOT achieved this milestone and look forward to continuing our partnership together, focused on the safety, improvement and growth of rail travel in the region.”

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