NJ Transit behind schedule on train-braking technology, but officials vow to meet U.S. deadline

The collision avoidance system slows or stops a train if the operator doesn't comply with signals or the speed limit.

Two men sit at a table, testifying, in front of microphones

New Jersey Transit officials Steven Santoro and Eric Daleo tell lawmakers they’re focused on making progress to implement positive train control by the federal deadline. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Despite some setbacks, New Jersey Transit officials have every expectation they’ll meet the federal deadline for getting positive train control on its rail system by the end of next year.

The collision avoidance system slows or stops a train if the operator doesn’t comply with signals or the speed limit.

A quarterly report filed with the Federal Railroad Administration shows that by the end of June, only 13 New Jersey Transit locomotives were fully equipped with antennas and onboard systems to operate positive train control. It’s required to be on 440 of them by the deadline.

New Jersey Transit executive director Steven Santoro said the prime contractor, Parsons Transportation Group, fell behind schedule, but he is satisfied it’s making appropriate efforts to catch up.

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“They are taking this very seriously now, and we look forward to working with them to get this project complete,” Santoro told New Jersey lawmakers during a recent hearing.

The agency’s assistant executive director, Eric Daleo said it’s up to Parsons to specify the means and methods for accelerating the project.

“What we know is that we have a schedule and that schedule shows full implementation by the federal deadline,” Daleo said. “And it’s up to the contractor to determine how to meet that scheduled milestone. We will hold the contractor accountable to meet the implementation deadline.”

NJ Transit staff is monitoring the work to get an early warning if the contractor is not making progress in getting the projected completed, Daleo said.

When it’s fully implemented, the positive train control technology will be installed on 326 miles of New Jersey Transit rail routes. So far, it’s not in operation on any.

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