Will PTC prevent all railroad-related accidents and incidents?

PTC cannot stop a train approaching an obstructed street-level crossing, nor will it prevent a vehicle from driving into or around lowered railroad crossing gates.  PTC cannot prevent trespassers from making their way onto the tracks, nor notify the train’s braking system of the trespasser. A conductor’s visual observation of either of these incursions does not provide for adequate braking time for a train weighing 2,000 tons or more.

What PTC does not do: 

  • PTC does NOT prevent grade crossing or trespasser incidents.  Nearly 96% of rail-related (i.e., not PTC-preventable) fatalities are attributable to grade crossing incursions (273 deaths and 813 injuries in 2017) and trespassing (560 deaths in 2017).

  • PTC does NOT initiate in-terminal stops:  the current generation of technology being installed has not been designed to bring trains to a stop to prevent end-of-track collisions, such as those incidents at Atlantic Terminal (LIRR, 1/4/17) and Hoboken (NJT, 9/29/16).  A robust Obstructive Sleep Apnea screening and treatment program, however, might have prevented both of these particular incidents.