FRCA Sends Second Letter to Capitol Hill Urging Congress to Pursue PTC Deadline Extension As Soon As Possible

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
S-230, U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Harry Reid
Minority Leader
S-221, U.S. Capitol 
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable John Boehner
Speaker of the House
H-232, U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Minority Leader
H-204, U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Leader McConnell, Leader Reid, Speaker Boehner, and Leader Pelosi –

The Freight Rail Customer Alliance (FRCA) joins with the nation’s railroads, other shippers of all types, manufacturers, and consumers, in urging the U.S. Congress to act as soon as possible to extend the Positive Train Control (PTC) Implementation Deadline.

FRCA appreciates the hard work and efforts made by leaders in both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives in reaching a bi-partisan approach to extend the deadline, as reflected in Section 7014 of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act (STRRA) of 2015, H.R. 3763, which was approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee.

With these actions, it is clear that the U.S. Congress is recognizing that the railroads, despite significant efforts and the expenditure of billions of dollars, are not going to be able to meet the PTC Implementation Deadline of December 31st.

Our nation’s Class 1 railroads continue to warn, that in order to avoid violating the law, they are 1) beginning to plan now how to phase-out freight and passenger traffic leading up to the December 31st deadline and 2) indicating that they will stop providing service for some of their customers starting December 1st, if not sooner.

Moreover, some of the railroads have indicated that in addition to stopping the transport of TIH (Toxic Inhalation Hazard) cargo they may be compelled to go further – stopping to handle perhaps all other traffic, including traffic that is non-TIH or passengers.

Such an outcome would result in chaos for the nation’s transportation system and for various industrial and agricultural sectors. Numerous commodities, such as coal and grain, can only be shipped by rail, especially from certain areas of our country and/or over long distances. This disruption of rail service will have a dramatic impact on freight shippers and the customers they serve, let alone negatively affecting our nation’s economy.

The curtailment and elimination of passenger and TIH traffic is grave enough, as that traffic is vital and viable transport alternatives do not exist. Such actions will likely also disrupt other freight rail traffic not directly subject to PTC requirements, including the non-TIH cargo noted above which are typically shipped and used by FRCA members and the customers they serve all across the nation.

We all witnessed the severe consequences of rail disruptions during the winter of 2013-2014. Although at that time, the disruptions were caused in large part by severe weather and a record harvest, we urge Congress to do everything in its power to avoid a repetition of those events.

Accordingly, we urge Congress to adopt an extension of the PTC Implementation Deadline, as approved by the House T&I Committee in Section 7014 of H.R. 3763 as quickly as possible. Disruption of railroad service is not in anyone’s best interests or that of the nation as a whole.

Thank you for your consideration.

Ann Warner
Executive Director


cc:            The Honorable John Thune

                  The Honorable Bill Nelson

                  The Honorable Bill Shuster

                  The Honorable Peter DeFazio


About FRCA
An umbrella membership organization, FRCA includes large trade associations representing more than 3,500 electric utility, chemical, and agriculture companies and their consumers. Through a growing coalition of industries and associations, the mission of FRCA is to obtain changes in Federal law and policy that will provide all freight shippers with reliable rail service at competitive prices.