Sept. 12, 2008 – Crash between Metrolink commuter and Union Pacific freight trains kills 25 people. The engineer at fault was texting and missed a stop signal.
October 2008 – Pres. George W. Bush signs Oberstar’s bill into law. Deadline for U.S. railroads to comply set for Dec. 31, 2015.
January 2010 – Federal Railroad Administration issues first set of “final” PTC implementation rules. Railroads oppose regulatory language and definitions.
July 2010 – Association of American Railroads challenges FRA rules in court. Class I railroads work to obtain more radio frequencies.
May 2012 – FRA issues a second set of “final” PTC rules.
December 2012 – FRA issues a third set of proposed rules.
May 2013 – Federal Communications Commission tells AAR, FRA that railroads must apply for historic review of every PTC radio tower.
Aug. 1, 2013 – Senate Bill 1462 would extend deadline for railroads to implement positive train control systems until Dec. 31, 2020.
May 2014 – FCC, preservation committee, and railroads reach agreement on radio tower
June 11, 2014 – “Grow America Act,” H.R. 4834, includes language that would allow FRA to permit PTC in stages, effectively eliminating the 2015 deadline.
Aug. 22, 2014 – FRA issues a third set of “final” PTC rules.
October 2015 – President Obama signs legislation extending the PTC deadline until Dec. 31, 2018. Law also requires railroads to submit revised PTC implementation plans within 90 days.
May 2016 – National Transportation Safety Board Vice Chairman T. Bella Dinh-Zarr urges colleagues to cite the absence of PTC as a second “probable cause” of the Amtrak train No. 188 derailment in May 2015. Board opts to list lack of PTC as a contributing factor to the accident.
For more on many of the incidents mentioned here, pick up the Train Wrecks Vol. 2 special issue, available now.