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Water Organizations Lobby to Delay Implementation of Train Regulations

trainSeveral high profile water organizations were successful in lobbying the U.S. House of Representatives to extend the December 31, 2015 deadline for railroads to comply with Positive Train Control (PTC) regulations. The Associated Press reports the House passed H.R. 3651 on October 27th. The legislation would delay the deadline for railroads to install automatic brakes until Dec. 31, 2018. Companies that can prove financial hardship could seek a waiver to provide up to two more years to comply, if necessary. The U.S. Senate still needs to vote on a deadline extension.

The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 mandated that PTC be implemented across a significant portion of the Nation's rail industry by the end of this year. The American Water Works Association (AWWA), Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, National Association of Water Companies, National Association of Clean Water Agencies, and Association of California Water Agencies are asking the federal government to delay the deadline due to concerns about the shipment of chemicals commonly used in the water disinfection process by water and wastewater utilities. There are concerns that many rail lines cannot be updated in time, and therefore trains will not be able to run. The AWWA says the water sector will be impacted by the rule because virtually all of the chlorine and anhydrous ammonia used by water utilities in the U.S. travels by rail from the manufacturing site to a distribution center or repackaging facility.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) defines PTC systems as "integrated command, control, communications, and information systems for controlling train movements with safety, security, precision, and efficiency." The FRA says rail lines requiring PTC are essentially Class I railroad main lines, over which five million or more gross tons are transported annually and handle any poisonous-inhalation-hazardous materials. Railroad main lines over which regularly scheduled intercity passenger or commuter rail services are provided are also required to implement systems compliant with PTC regulations. The regulations are expected to be implemented on approximately 70,000 miles of track. 

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