N.C. Railways to Benefit from Grant for Safety Technology

The state will soon be able to purchase new equipment needed to meet a nationwide mandate on rail safety standards, thanks to a federal grant awarded to the N.C. Department of Transportation last week.

“The safe movement of passengers and freight on our rail system is our top priority,” said Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson. “These funds will help us ensure that we have the technology to prevent crashes and save lives.”

North Carolina is one of only six states to receive funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration to assist with the implementation of Positive Train Control systems.

Positive Train Control uses global positioning systems and other technology to monitor and control train movements in order to prevent collisions, derailments, incursions into work zones, and trains going onto the wrong tracks. Last year, Congress extended the deadline to comply with Positive Train Control requirements until December 2018.

“North Carolina has been on the leading edge of efforts to achieve compliance with federal mandates,” said state Rail Director Paul Worley. “As new equipment comes online, this funding will help us enhance our state’s rail network and meet the goals outlined in Governor McCrory’s 25-Year Vision for transportation in North Carolina for improving passenger rail.”

The state is making additional investments in rail safety, such as a series of rail and highway construction projects known as the Piedmont Improvement Program. This initiative includes constructing 12 bridges to separate traffic from trains, eliminating more than two dozen railroad crossings and adding 31 miles of passing track.

The state will receive $771,070 to equip five converted Cab Control Units with Interoperable Electronic Train Management Systems. The grant will also pay for system tests on the Piedmont corridor or within any adjacent rail territory of the state’s rail partners, Norfolk Southern Corporation and Amtrak.

Thirty jurisdictions from across the nation applied for funding, but only 11 projects received a grant.