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Yet Another Blow For Caltrain In Less Than Two Weeks

In just about two weeks Caltrain has suffered another blow to its multi-billion dollar modernization program.

PTC sacked for lack of delivery

Parsons Transportation Group was acquired in 2011 to install a federal mandated safety system going by the name positive train control (PTC). The system was designed to automatically prevent train collisions despite of engineer’s actions. The firing of the company is not expected to cause any delays to the modernization process. The program was initially scheduled to complete in 2015 but the deadline was pushed to 2018. Caltrain is looking to hire another company to complete the remaining final phases.

Nasdaq Stock CSX Corporation (NASDAQ:CSX) and other major freight railroads including Norfolk Southern are further expected to be asking for waivers of deadline to commence their work.

Parsons arguments

Parsons had filed suit last week prior to the termination of the project. They claimed there was no contractual legal basis to consider it in default of the contract. They remained positive that there was no way they could miss the 2018 deadline. The Federal Transit Administration reprimanded Caltrain for delaying approval of $647 million grant to necessary to fully fund the package obligated with conversion of railroad to electric trains. This was second part of the project, though the two projects are not dependent on each other. The main freight railroads are due to ask for deadline waivers to enable them complete their projects. They include Union Pacific, CSX, BNSF and Norfolk Southern.

Caltrain differs with PTC

Caltrain’s system, Communications Based Overlay Signal System (CBOSS) differs from the PTC systems, a complete software integration, testing and federal certification. It has all it locomotives equipped with CBOSS which tracks signals that ensure Caltrain operates a large amount of rail service besides freight services. The freight rail protocol being put in place by PTC does not conform to Caltrain’s service level of operation. They commented that their main intention is to increase services and operations. Hence there is need to enhance maximum amount of service on that particular corridor.

About the agreement

The agreement was signed by President George W. Bush after a head on collision between a Metrolink commuter train and a Union Pacific freight train killing 25. Metrolink engineer had an order to stop and had pulled the train onto the single track main line.

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